The Ur-City

Oral legend states that the ancestors of Citizens, Outsiders, and other peoples long lost to history once lived together in a great city of great technological sophistication on a scale that dwarfs even modern achievements. Several versions of the story exist: in one, the precursors of the City and the Outland left because of the Ur-City’s decadent corruption. In another, the Ur-City itself was destroyed by a calamity, leaving the precursors as refugees. A final variation of the tale posits that the other Ur-Citizens left or were forced out by the precursors, leaving them in control. As no evidence of an Ur-City has even been found, academics at the Citizens University remain divided on whether the oral traditions have a basis in fact.

The Precursor City

Whatever the case, the precursors found themselves on the opposite side of the Great Sea. There they built the Precursor City, the ruins of which have been discovered and partially excavated by archaeological expeditions (though its great distance has limited the work that can be performed there). Stories and surviving deciphered text fragments indicate that the Precursor City was less technologically advanced than the Ur-City, and was approximately at the level of the modern City, though many modern discoveries were unknown to the precursors and some of their knowledge, notably that of matter teleportation, have been corrupted or lost.

The Precursor City was ruled by a council of learned citizens, and valued technological improvement above all else. Nevertheless, it seems that the civilization stagnated, especially in its later years, as many new ideas were considered heretical. The precursors practiced exile as the primary form of punishment, and were strict by modern standards–the slightest deviation from the Precursor Code, of which only fragments remain, was grounds to be placed on a penal barge. The barge made trips across the Great Sea twice a year, putting inmates ashore to fend for themselves. This population of criminals, undesirables, and opponents of the precursor regime were the ancestors of modern Outsiders, and archaeological evidence from the penal barge landing sites indicates that these exiles quickly reverted to a primitive state. Eventually, the penal barge system was replaced, and the trips ceased.

There are only incomplete records and stories regarding the Precursor City’s fall, but it appears to have been from an external invasion. The source of these invaders is obscure, but all accounts agree that while less sophisticated than the precursors, they were better trained and equipped than the city’s small defense force. The struggle was brief but bitter, and a great part of the city’s population was killed or taken by the invaders to parts unknown. A small group of refugees was able to commandeer vessels in the city’s harbor, and fled across the great sea. Several ships were destroyed by the invaders, and others floundered during the crossing in the hands of inexperienced navigators, but under the leadership of Sejan–who had been an official in the precursor government–thirteen ships managed to land just north of the modern-day City.

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