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|Reference||Adventure 12 Secret of the Ancients|
The Ancients were a major race or society whose civilization apparently ceased to exist many tens of thousands of years before the Vilani empire was established. Some Imperial scientists call such an ancient culture, a precursor society.
The Ancients had technology whose level was apparently unmatched by the Imperium, and seeded sentient beings including Humaniti across various worlds of the galaxy. Available information about the Ancients has grown over the centuries as new excavations have been completed and as newly available artifacts have been analyzed.
- 1 Physiology and Environment
- 2 History and Background
- 3 Psychology and Philosophy
- 4 Culture and Society
- 5 Calendar and Timekeeping
- 6 Technology and Trade
- 7 Military and Intelligence
- 8 References and contributors
Physiology and Environment
The Ancients, as a species, are believed to be extinct. Some Imperial scientists believe that the Ancients physiology greatly resembles that of the extant Droyne. Some scientists have even proposed that the Droyne and the Ancients may be the same or related species, and possibly even subspecies of the same race.
No one has found the Ancient homeworld to date.
Destroyed Ancient Homeworld?
Investigators always hope that the next Ancient site they discover will be the homeworld; theoretically there would be fossil evidence that the Ancients had evolved on such a world and the evidence would confirm the find.
Some propose that the search is futile: the homeworld was undoubtedly reduced to an asteroid belt during the Final War.
Ancient Homeworld Speculations
Others have at least conjectured as to what the Ancient homeworld would be like. They have analyzed the Droyne and determined that that race evolved on a small world (size 3 to 6) with a standard or dense atmosphere (6 or 8) and at least some water (hydrographics 3+). They base this on the fact that the Droyne have wings and can fly if the world is small enough and the atmosphere dense enough. The requirement for water is dictated by the initial evolutionary needs as well as the continuing need for water for survival.
Ancients Archaeological Site Locations
Imperial studies of the reported locations of Ancient sites have produced some statistical data. The results are purely statistical, but point toward certain conclusions.
Overall, the frequency of Ancient sites declines with distance from a central point. That central point is somewhere in the Spinward Marches.
Please see Worlds with an Ancient Site for more information.
History and Background
Scattered throughout known space are the ruins of a civilization which once dominated this region of the galaxy. Early explorations by the Vilani thought each ruined site to be representative of a different race, but excavations and explorations soon showed that this was not so- they were all examples of the same civilization.
The antiquity of these sites (showed by various dating methods) gave rise to the term Ancients to generally describe this vanished race. All sites have been dated as established at around -300,000. The allowance for error in the dating methods is about 10,000 years: the conclusion is that the Ancient civilization lasted less than 20,000 years in total.
The Final War
The Ancients' civilization was destroyed in a cataclysmic war. Over a period of about 2,000 years, they fought with such ferocity that archeologists today work under a severe handicap trying to piece together the bits and fragments that remain.
The Final War was fought with technology far beyond that available to the Imperium, or to any civilization extant. Estimates place the resources used at tech level 25 or greater: a level virtually incomprehensible to those investigating the war.
The weapons of the Final War were brutal in their power. They were capable of great destruction; entire planets were reduced to asteroid belts by what must have been planet-buster bombs. In other cases, planetoids and small moons were seized, moved, and directed toward planets to obliterate what must have been bases, cities, and installations. Many worlds still bear the marks of such attacks.
The weapons of the Final War were also sophisticated. Entire worlds appear to have escaped unscathed from the war; only when an Ancient site is discovered does it become apparent that that particular site was the target of an attack. There is no evidence of misses, no pattern bombing, no random attacks. What was attacked was hit; high technology controlled the attacks.
- Please see Final War for more information.
Psychology and Philosophy
Very little is known about the psychology or philosophies of the Ancients.
Culture and Society
The Ancients were divided into many different subraces, nationalities, tribes, or other groups.
This Ancient civilization was wide ranging. Confirmed Ancient sites have been found in every sector of the Imperium, as well as throughout Vargr and Aslan territory. It is reported, but unconfirmed, that Ancient sites also occur with great frequency in Zhodani territory. The total number of confirmed Ancient sites visited by the Imperium is more than 200.
Many theories about the Ancients have been formed based on the available evidence. The three or four major theories currently in vogue are:
- The Ancients were divided into many different subraces, nationalities, tribes, or other groups, and that competition between these groups was a continuing part of their lives. High intelligence was natural to the Ancients, and as a consequence, their struggle against nature was an easy task; their struggles against each other was somewhat more difficult. In the end, the differences between their groups led to a genocidal war which extinguished the entire race.
- This theory dwells on the Final War aspects of the Ancients.
- Some event or series of events convinced the Ancients to leave this region of space for another. After the migration fleets were constructed, but before they left, the Ancients destroyed all traces of their present civilization. The Ancients still exist somewhere in the universe.
- This theory explains the Final War as a sort of tidying up before departing. It explains in understandable human terms why the Ancients are no longer around, and expresses the fear that they might someday return.
- The Ancients' achievements in technology eventually reached their limit, and with that limit came a sort of racial depression. Having come so far, the Ancients found that they could go no farther, and committed racial suicide rather than face continued stagnation. The Final War was a sort of suicidal final project which involved everyone.
- Some Ancients did not want to commit suicide; they were genetically altered to make them happier with a simple existence, and they are today known as the Droyne.
- This theory assumes the cooperation of everyone in suicide. Some modifications have been proposed to make the Final War a conflict between the Suicidists and the Survivalists. As such, it is a refinement of the conflict theory.
- As the Ancients expanded out into the universe, they encountered another culture as technologically advanced above them as they were above us. That superior race determined or predicted that the Ancients could become rivals or enemies to them at some point in the future, and decided to crush them before they did. The result was the Final War.
- This theory accounts for the near complete destruction of the Ancients, but no one has ever found evidence that a culture superior to the Ancients ever existed.
The Ancients never had a very large population. The planets they settled usually had only one, or at most a handful, of bases. Estimates of population vary, but do not exceed one million per world.
Some investigators believe that their high population worlds held billions, and that these were reduced to asteroid belts; that only low population worlds were not completely destroyed. Others counter that none of the evidence found in the asteroid belts confirms this.
If the asteroid belts created by the Ancients were worlds with populations in the billions or tens of billions, then total population of the Ancients at their height could have been in the trillions. If those worlds, like other Ancient sites, held no more than one million each, then the total population of the Ancients has been estimated at less than one billion.
Calendar and Timekeeping
Very little is known about how the Ancients formed a calendar or marked the passing of time although it is assumed that the Ancients calendar is based upon the planetary rotation of their homeworld, which remains unknown.
What is known is that the Ancients fostered a vast diversity of cultures, technologies, and thought. And, as such, it can safely be assumed that the Ancients probably possessed a large number and wide variety of calendars and timekeeping systems.
Technology and Trade
The most striking aspect of Ancient technology is not its high level, but its diversity. Of the hundreds of Ancient sites which have been excavated and analyzed, each appears to express a different type of technology. It would be easy to take each site as a different culture or technology.
One site might use familiar screw fasteners, while another would depend on adhesives for the same tasks. Still others depend on rivets, or interlocking ellipsoids, or silicon plastic clamps.
One site might show evidence that it used silicon chip circuits; another performed the same function with fiber optics, still another used fluid dynamics, yet another used channeled heat transfer.
It appears that each site involved the near total re-invention of even basic technology as it was constructed.
Even writing, data formats, recording formats, systems and standards vary between sites. The high technology equipment is entirely compatible within a site, but rarely do artifacts from different sites show any ability to function together.
Rarely do excavations of Ancient sites produce working artifacts. One site proved to be a treasure trove with more than 2,000 operating black globe generators almost waiting to be installed in Imperial ships. Black globes typify the incomprehensible artifacts of the Ancients: each of the devices found is a small metal device measuring about 300 cm on a side with a shiny metal finish. Two minor discolorations on the surface are the on and off switches.
When the device is activated, it projects a black force field in a sphere around the device at a radius of about one meter. In the first experiments with the device,a researcher was cut in half by the force field when he touched the switch; in the second, it was activated remotely by a rod. Both of the black globes could not then be turned off because the off switch was inside the force field.
The black globe was adopted by the Imperial Navy as a form of armor, for its fighting ships. Using the many black globe devices found, the Navy has been able to produce crude duplicates of them, but researchers are still a long way from a good understanding of how these devices work.
In some cases, the Ancients have moved whole worlds. Their exploits in such matters were so great that even the Final War was unable to destroy them.
The Ancients created a rosette of five worlds at Tireeen (in the Vargr Extents). Five planets were shifted into points equidistant from each other in the same orbit and then transformed into identical habitats. Evidence as to what the worlds were like before the shift is lacking, so the degree of transformation is unknown, but even shifting worlds in their orbits consumes unbelievable amounts of energy, and the Ancients shifted at least four worlds in that system.
Each of the worlds has physical characteristics 484, which indicates that the worlds would be especially hospitable to Droyne. At least one of the worlds in the rosette was inhabited by Droyne when the system was discovered by Vargr in -2530, but they have since died out.
The Ancients also created a ringworld in the Leenitakot system of the Hinterworlds. Even their approach to building a ringworld puzzles the experts. It circles a dim M1V star at less than 30 million kilometers. The ringworld is a narrow band less than 100,000 kilometers wide, and the construction looks unfinished, without soils, atmosphere, or any provision for life to live on its inner surface. And even so, this small ringworld has an inner surface area equal to 25,000 Terras.
The Ancients had am incredible mastery of Genetic Engineering. They were capable of altering living matter to perform specific tasks or fulfill specific functions. Many life forms still exist today which have been shown to be the result of Ancient genetic tampering.
Although the Droyne are well known as a race, and have been the subject of extensive research by academics, it is only recently that the relationship between the Ancients and the Droyne has been even partially understood.
The Droyne are known to be physically identical with the Ancients. That is to say, the known installations of the Ancients are physically compatible with the dimensions and requirements of the Droyne. Doors and furniture are best adapted to the limbs and sizes of the Droyne; ledges and balconies are compatible with the flying abilities of the Droyne; pictorial representations of Droyne can be found in many known Ancient sites.
What remains unknown is why the Droyne show no signs of having retained the superior technology of the Ancients.
It has been fairly well established that the Ancients were responsible for transporting Humaniti from Terra to a number of other worlds. It is estimated that humans were taken to more than a hundred worlds, with evidence of their presence on at least 90 worlds. On about 40 worlds, humans took root, surviving a period of barbarism before achieving civilization.
Once the Solomani Hypothesis (which theorized that all humaniti came originally from Terra) was accepted, it was a simple matter to analyze the gene pools available to each of the distinct human races found on worlds other than Terra. Those studies have concluded that the Ancients visited Terra many times, taking groups of between 1,000 and 10,000 humans to each of perhaps 100 planets.
The reason for Ancient interest in humaniti is unknown. Theories involving humans as slaves, assistants, workers, even as pets have been advanced, but there is not enough evidence to support any specific conjecture.
At approximately the same time that the Ancients snatched human samples from Terra, they also took samples of the mammalian Canidae family, most likely of the genus Canis. These canids were genetically engineered to produce an upright posture, an opposed thumb, and intelligence. Just as the reason for Ancient interest in Humaniti is unknown, so is the reason for the Ancients interference in creating the Vargr.
Military and Intelligence
Very little is conclusively known about the Ancients military except that it was more advanced than any technologies currently known and it was capable of vast destruction on an interstellar scale.
- Please see Final War for more information.
World Listing: 1105
References and contributors
|This article has a secret.|
- Marc Miller. The Kinunir (Game Designers Workshop, 1979), 44.
- Gareth Hanrahan. Secret of the Ancients (Mongoose Publishing, 2012), 13-15.Gareth Hanrahan. Secret of the Ancients (Mongoose Publishing, 2010), 13-15.Marc Miller. Secret of the Ancients (Game Designers Workshop, 1984), 13-15.
- John Harshman, Marc Miller, Loren Wiseman. Library Data (A-M) (Game Designers Workshop, 1981), 12.
- J. Andrew Keith, Marc Miller, John Harshman. Droyne (Game Designers Workshop, 1985), 2,5-6,44-45.
- GURPS Traveller
- Mongoose Traveller: Secret of the Ancients
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science