Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Overworld takes place in the year 4998, a time of great change and uncertainty. Though humanity has endured for millennia, overcoming the destruction of intergalactic war, the species once again finds itself at the crux of conflict that threatens its continued survival. But to understand present circumstances, let us take a look at the past.
Approximately 1500 years past, the last emperor of The Eternal Empire? was assassinated, leaving no clear succession. Thus began The Hundred Years' War?, during which time humanity descended to levels of barbarity unseen before or since. Eventually, the war ended, as the warring houses lost the ability to wage interstellar war. Each consolidated its hold on its respective area over the next four centuries, rediscovering lost technologies, and rising from the ashes of their destructive past.
Relations between the houses was cautiously reestablished, and The First Imperium? was formed, with the Emperor having only limited power- the houses were the true seat of rule. This seemed to suit all, for over the next 500 years, the history of humanity was filled with peace and prosperity. As The First Imperium? reached heights that surpassed The Eternal Empire? in all of its glory, it seemed that man had finally reached a state of utopia. Unfortunately, all of this would be short-lived.
Exactly what happened is lost in the annals of time, but what is known is that The Great War?, more destructive than The Hundred Years' War?, was waged, bringing humanity to the brink of extinction. When turned towards war, the great technologies that had made life so wonderful made battle a living hell. Though details are sketchy, one man had the foresight to pull his forces from battle, and hold them in reserve, so that as things seemed darkest for the survival of humanity, he swept in from the periphery to crush all opposition, claiming the ancient Imperial Throne for himself. Establishing a sixth great house, he solidified his claim with alliances and oaths of fealty from the other great houses. He also created two documents: Ordos Imperatus?, and Convenientiae Bellum?, documents that set forth checks and balances in the event of succession or war, so that the events that caused the downfall of the Eternal Empire would not befall his creation.
Unfortunately, those were his only two achievements. For on his coronation day, as he crowned himself Emperor of the Known Universe, he was consumed in a great conflagration. The assassination was very clean; there was no evidence pointing to any party, and none stepped forward to claim responsibility for the act. The Ordos Imperatus? were first debated, and then fought over. The Emperor Wars? lasted the better part of the next millennium, as the Convenientiae Bellum? dictated the terms of battle- while less destructive because of rules, these self-same rules allowed the wars to be sustainable for longer than they ever would have been otherwise. Historians debate about the actual benevolence of the documents. Without them, mankind would doubtfully have had a thousand years of war. But based upon the previous two conflicts, without them, man may have been made extinct. But in any case, this war was ended not with a clear victor, but a compromise based upon an age-old document penned by a long dead emperor.
The Tau-Ceti Conference? resulted in a semi-stable Imperium; none could agree to place power in the hands of one individual. Duke Davon Hawkwood? of House Aquila? was able to prove a claim by the ancient Ordos Imperatus?. It did not matter that this claim was shaky; the acceptance of it was dictated more by politics and compromise than merit. The backing of three of the five major houses, The Ecclesiasticus, and notably The Spacing Guild? and The Muster? accomplished what a thousand years of warfare had been unable to. With such a force, the dissenters were brought to heel.
In a final bold stroke which threatened the fragile alliance, but in retrospect cemented its future, Duke Davon Hawkwood? proclaimed himself Emperor Davon Theah?, divorcing himself from his house to resurrect the historical Imperial House. Though it has been scant decades since this act, The Second Imperium? thrives and grows stronger with each passing year.
But the desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it....