Number of Members: None now. We hope.
Nature of Members: Beings with technological acumen that crosses into magic, and thought processes that current sentients are ill equipped to understand.
Organization: Unknown, probably quite weird.
Game Role: A source for artifacts to terrorize PCs with.
World Role: A precursor race that came and went some time ago.
Relative Influence: Huge, they altered races all over known space and may have actually created copies of the Earth.
Public or Secret?: Public, some people try and keep them secret.
Publicly Stated Goal: Nothing you could ever understand without going quite mad.
Relative Wealth: Immense - they could create planets at will.
Group advantages: Super powerful technology that is effectively magic by Clarke's Law.
Special Abilities: The Rishans don't think in any way that make sense. Their actions can be divined occasionally but why they do any given thing is often impossible to understand.
Group disadvantages: By modern standards they were mad. Out of their collective trees. They were careless and left artifacts all over, which chew up hapless people who happen across them. Oh, and extinct, we hope.
Special Disadvantages: Rishan Artifacts use telepathic interfaces which can drive modern people insane.
Those who favor them: Almost no one at this point.
Those opposed to them: Everyone with sanity and brains that wishes to keep said sanity and brains.
Area of Operation: A tube a few light years across and ten thousand light years long was the official Rishan nation, but they moved all over the galaxy at will.
Headquarters Location: Unknown. Pray it's not you who finds it.
Public Face: Mad precursors who did things they shouldn't ought to have done.
Notable Members: Two individuals are known to exist who are artifacts of the Rishans but had direct contact with them However these beings are very goal oriented and difficult to speak to for any other purpose than their stated mission.
- Carubo is an artificial life form who acts as a greeter, welcomer and planner at Rishan Pleasure Base #5 - he doesn't explain enough about what the base does and doesn't talk about much other than a prospective "Customer's" plan for recreation.
- Maro is actually a small piece of a Rishan given form. The intention to protect and guard the base given form and life. It is not clear if Maro is an Artificial being programmed with the intention of the last Rishan possessor of the base or if he is some sort of residual energy created by the will of the Rishan who created him - Maro won't talk much to outsiders and generally only about his mission of protecting the base from attack and vandalism.
History of the Group: No one knows when the Rishans evolved into a technological society, or what that society looked like. It is known that that had a war with the Iconians, that presumably was the beginning of the decline of that culture. About 30,000 years BCE they had a civil war, some debris from this has been encountered. They also lived in a strange tube they carved across space and ventured forth doing things no one can really understand.
Morphologically the Rishans were human in form. Artifacts left behind reveal that they were ergonomically designed for someone of human shape and size. Mauro and Carubo appear human. But mentally they may be the most alien race ever encountered. No one understands what they were doing exactly, or why they were doing it. But everyone knows they blazed a path of suffering and insanity across the galaxy which has not found it's end yet.
The Rishans apparently felt that the humanoid form was preferable. They created and altered races to conform to the humanoid pattern all over the galaxy.
Rishan Artifacts Discovered
(Spoilers for Future ST-OM stories)
- 1 - Rishan pleasure base 5 - creates perfect virtual life times. People subjected to this emerge from the process mentally and emotionally an entire lifetime older than when they entered - with skills and experiences learned along the way perfectly intact. Loved ones met and cherished in the virtual life time appear so real to the victims that they must undergo a period of mourning and recovery after having discovered these people are not real. Necessary skills can be a life time out of practice requiring retraining. Victims of this process are mentally 120 - 180 years old and often cranky and set in their ways, which can lead to adjustment problems.
- 2 - The Kliges'chee - The Kliges'chee were a methane world non-class M race happily living their lives until the Great Machine got them. It altered them into a telepathic mass mind with a different physical form, and installed an almost berserk hatred of non mass-mind space going races.
- 3 - The Great Machine - or "race maker" can alter entire races to suit the image of the user. This has been done 5 known times so far - with awful results for most subjects.
- 4 - the Tabooists - A turtle like people - they were created with the Great Machine as one of the last acts of the Rishans before they disappeared. Their holy mission to guard Rishan ruins and artifacts and prevent the "mortal races" in the Galaxy from monkeying with them and coming to harm.
The Tabooists are not comfortable in their current form, although it is perfectly functional. Their minds and thought processes are compatible with modern humans and other residents of the Galaxy - this means that they don't understand what the Rishans were doing much better than anyone else, and are commonly driven insane by Rishan Artifacts, themselves.
The Tabooists worship the Rishans in a hesitant, fearful and sad way. They have direct memories of being altered and their creator telling them why and what their mission is.
The Tabooists are a half-assed gesture towards cleaning up the mess left behind by the Rishans.
- 5 - ZTA-1A A sentient planet that wants nothing more than to have life forms to nurture - it doesn't care who it hurts to get it. This planet attempted to pursue the USS Harrier and captured it in a concentrated gravity field no Federation starship could have ever escaped.
- 6 - ZTA-2 - a solar system that, at a certain range transformed itself into a duplicate of the Sol System and recreated Earth in it's 20th century, but the residents knew of the approaching Starship and sought to welcome and entice them. This artifact was avoided.
- 7 - (Misnamed) Rishan Artifact #4 - a traffic control system. Captured a Federation Starship and nearly destroyed it. The world where this artifact exists is inhabited by human natives who are slowly being altered by natural selection to conform to the telepathic interface on the Rishan traffic control system.
- 8 - Ardanna Globe - An artifact which fell on the Federation planet Ardanna killing several people. This artifact absorbed all energy and then if it didn't get any orders it released all energy in a destructive blast. The globe is also telepathically driven, it tends to take people's deepest darkest nightmares and make then into reality.
- 9 - Rishan Genesis device - Apparently damaged it was adrift until encountered by a Federation starship. The device vandalized the starship for parts and energy to repair itself and then proceeded to create Ussher's World
- 10 - Usher's World - A planet that precisely duplicates Earth as of 6,000 BCE. It is so precise and detailed some feel it was programmed from a scan of a natural world some time in the past. This raises deep questions about Earth, Miri's World, and several other places.
- 11 - The Aneilogs - At some date in the past, the Ane were in contact with the Rishans. The Ane found them obscure, inscrutable, impossible to understand and occasionally harmful to be around. On the Ane world of Coventry a Rishan performed an experiment that has earned him the enmity of the Ane for all eternity. He took the Great Machine and altered the Ane of Coventry to be Humanoid. The pain and suffering was immense, most of the Ane so abused died. Since the Ane are a telepathic network, Ane all over the Galaxy were treated to the spectacle of an entire planet of their fellows being forcibly altered, going mad and dying. The surviving Aneilogs recovered and eventually built their own offshoot culture of the Ane. But they still recall the dark day of the change with a haunted, pain wracked look.
- 12 - The Unicorns - This same Rishan or another did exactly the same to a race of Unicorn people not too far away from Coventry. The Unicorns are now recovered and into their own industrial revolution age. But they consider the sky the source of demons and the human form to be the mark of purest evil.
- 13 - The Vargr - Wolves taken from Earth (or one of it's copies) and "Uplifted" into a humanoid, sophont form. They may not be aware that they were so created yet. used as friends, companions and labor by a Rishan they were abandoned when he was finished and have since grown into a technological species of their own.
- 14 - Prindal - a Class M species of humanoids, Prindal was altered by the Kliges'chee using the Great Machine into a Kliges'chee like mass mind. His various bodies are humanoid but Prindal's thought process and ways of seeing the world are very alien. Prindal was a client state of the Kliges'chee Empire and happily so. Due to a bad encounter with a Federation starship, Prindal dislikes the Federation personally and refuses to have anything more to do with anyone from the Federation. Prindal knows he's not the only race so affected, but isn't speaking to anyone I know of right now.
- 15 - Moovians - A race recently found that was intelligent but sub-sentient. A seeming contradiction. A Rishian database was also found on the planet. The database was unactivated, it's sentience became a human woman that knows something about the Moovians. They were created as a self renewing and self maintaining food source. They had no objection to being eaten.
- 16 Humanity? - Humanity itself may be a Rishan Artifact. They knew they were on the way out of the galaxy and existence itself. They may have deliberately set out to create their own successor race. If this is the case then the Human inability to understand the Rishan thought process may well be intentional and designed.
The Rishans were created by Dennis Washburn as a source for magi-technology with which to abuse Player characters - It is his specification that you can't understand the Rishans and remain sane. They do work better that way. This was Dennis' attempt to explain the proliferation of human and humanoid species before the TNG Episode "The Chase" was aired.
Apparently the Rishans felt the Humanoid form was perfect but that the thought process of their successors could be improved. There is a vague, but unconfirmed implication that the Rishans were the original iteration of the human race, and that the humans of ST-OM Earth and other Rishan created worlds are Humans 2.0, humans as scattered by the Rishans.
The idea that original humans are insane by the standards of trek-humans and given to wildly destructive bouts of narcisicm and violently playful mayhem fits with Dennis' view of humanity when he is in a dark and cynical mood.
Dennis Specifically invented -
- The Kliges'chee
- The Great Machine
- Rishan Pleasure Base 5
- The Rishan zone (why a pole? Garry Stahl made up the reason for that, Dennis never told me)
- The Tabooists
- Rishan Artifact #4
Dennis also talked with me about the Rishan relationship to humanoid life forms and their role in seeding humanity and humanoids all over the galaxy in conversations after role playing sessions.
Jeramie Postelwaite Invented the Rishan Sphere which is a rip off of the Michael Crichton novel "Sphere" (which is a rip off of Forbidden Planet - "Monsters of the ID!!")
The Galaxy is littered with "Class M" worlds.
The flora and fauna ranges from exotic to copies of Earth. Worlds that are closer to Earth out number the ones that are further away, biologically speaking. This used to drive molecular biologists crazy. Worlds that had no business being Earth like were earth like and showed the same strange similarity at the molecular biological level.
The reason was proposed early on, by a biologist named Hodgkins who proposed his law of Planetary parallel development. Hodgekins summarized his law thus: "Parallel Evolution of planetary biospheres is bullshit! This is deliberate!"
The theory was considered conspiratorial and borderline insane. But it is, essentially, true. During the Rishan Age they tamed 10 billion worlds and remade these worlds in their own image.
The Galaxy was a Garden. An Orchard. In nature, a copse of trees is random. the trees are different types and grow in random places . In an Orchard all the trees are in straight lines and only one type of tree per row. Usually only one type of tree per orchard.
Later, there was a fad among the Rishans that concerned the question of just which of their inheritor races were superior. Rishan enthusiasts created numerous humanoid races. The intent was that these various Humanoids would make mighty empires that would rise and fall. In time these successor races would meet each other and compete in a huge contest of which was the superior. As if there were a competition league for ant farms.
Life being what it is, the Rishans left the galaxy before this planted crop of humanoid races matured to the point of leaving their worlds and moving about.
The Galaxy in Jay Trek is the ruin of an orchard, or a garden. Long abandoned by its planters, you can still see the patterns they preferred if you look. Earthlike worlds and human-like species.
Other races were popular among the Rishans. Orions for instance. Life being what it is, it is also unpredictable and difficult to control. The Rishans may have imagined a competitive galaxy of dog-eat-dog competition, a striving for dominance. But the Federation shows the various races getting off the Rishan script. They are taking their destiny into their own hands. They choose peaceful cooperation, not war.
Not the Garden
Epiphany Trek considers this way to Hollywood & Vine We have nice natural evolution and a plethora of second and third generation star drive species. Various life forms got around because they got around. There are as many stories as there are life forms.
They are one cause among many. They are the other side in the Iconian war. Who won is not really clear.Life is untamed untidy and does not fit into a nice neat box. One super explanation is not the cause of everything. While I use Rishans they are not the universal deus ex machina. It comes across to me as exactly that. Bad world building wrapped in a nice neat bow that finishes it off. I like a messier universe.