Cosmic Overview in Orion's Echo | World Anvil

Cosmic Overview

An Orion-tation course for the Orion’s Echo universe

Hello, human of the past! Please, take your time adjusting to the burden of consciousness; you have been in stasis for a very long time. That’s it, ease into the heat and light. There we go.   Welcome to the fifty-third century of what you know as the Common Era. Now, fortunately for you, the generally accepted modern dating system shares its year zero with Common Era, so it is also the fifty-third century of the Hyperspace Era. Oh yes, it has been some time indeed, but please save all your questions for the end of this orientation. According to your chart, you have missed… approximately three thousand, two hundred and twenty years of intervening time.   Oh dear. You should probably lie back down for this.
Mnemosyne, Temporal Displacement Acclimation Counselor
The known universe is a complicated place indeed, filled with exotic locations, strange creatures, ancient lore, and a diverse array of people and cultures. For someone of the distant twenty-first century, this can be overwhelming, so this overview has been organized by Archivist Mnemosyne to help orient timelost wayfarers to the universe as it is in the modern day.


The galaxy -or at least this small patch of it which is known to our civilization- houses a vast number of independent biospheres, some of which have evolved sapient species. The sophonts of known space have greatly differing biologies, physiologies, psychologies, and sociologies, and even the different species of human now present among the stars vary considerably.


If a being is humanoid and looks mostly like a human with some extra bits, they're probably a human of some flavor. Several thousand years of genetic tailoring and evolution on alien worlds have splintered humanity’s legacy into a vast array of posthumans. Populations of Homo sapiens still exist on many worlds —including old Earth— and are pretty common, but you will see all kinds of traits in posthuman species, from altered proportions to animal traits.


There are easily dozens of sapient species native to dozens of planets scattered across the Orion-Cygnus Arm. From aerakocra to zinshaiyet, sophonts come in all colors, patterns, sizes, and shapes —emphasis on "shapes." They range from the strikingly human-like Klex to the shambling, fungal Myconids, and each species has a unique perspective to offer. Several of these species —the Klex in particular— even have a similar degree of artificial genetic variation as humanity.

Terran Uplifts

Name a species from the planet Earth, and there is probably an uplifted strain of them running around some corner of space. ("Uplifted" is shorthand for "genetically modified to have sapience.") From a household pets to whales to bee colonies, Terra's critters now have a say in their own futures.

Xenofauna Uplifts

Much like humans did with their fellow creatures of the Earth, several other species in the cosmos opted to build-a-buddy from familiar fauna. Xenofauna uplifts can sometimes be hard to distinguish from just another naturally-evolved alien being, but they'll often make their heritage quite clear if you ask.


There are uncountable kinds of physical and virtual machines across the Orion-Cygnus arm, and such uncountability leads to unaccountability on the part of manufacturers. If it can run code, chances are good there's a unit or two of that model that crossed the sapience threshold somehow –usually by voiding the warranty.
Fundamental differences between the starfaring species can sometimes make interaction between them challenging. Nonetheless, our civilization exists peacefully -or at least peaceably- with the other starfaring powers that neighbor us. Amid these interstellar nations are many smaller factions and a multitude of cultures, making the starlanes vibrant and teeming with trade, tradition… and sometimes treachery.

The Universe

Orion Arm Local Space
Currently a semi-placeholder for a more detailed version of the known galaxy. Compass shows the orientation of the map based on constellations relative to Sol: Orion is "fadeward" (toward the edge of the galaxy), Sagittarius is "coreward" (toward the center of the galaxy), Cygnus is "spinward" (in the direction of the galactic rotation), Vela is "trailward" (retrograde relative to the galactic rotation), Cetus is the direction being observed toward ("away"), Coma Berenices is the direction being observed from ("toward"), and the other two directions are hyperspatial (“ana” and “kata”).
According to all major astrographic databases, “known space” encompasses a roughly spherical volume 1200 or so light years in radius, approximately centered on the ancient human home system of Sol. The modern frontier lies, broadly, at the edges of three major nebulae: the Barnard Loop complex, the Cygnus Veil, and the Pillars of Creation. Within this expansive bubble of galactic space lie over twelve million stars, the majority of which are charted and a great many of which are inhabited, and a number of smaller nebulae.   Navigation between these far-flung stars is afforded by the utilization of hyperspace, a higher dimension that enables starships and information signals to cross interstellar space at speeds vastly greater than light. However, every advancement comes with drawbacks, and hyperdrives are no exception: too much exposure to the mind-bending reality of hyperspace can lead to a form of madness known as voidthrall.

And Everything

There is so much to experience in the galaxy as we know it, and even more beyond the edges of our maps and knowledge. This is why this database has been compiled: to help everyone to understand the vast cosmos, and invite those of adventurous spirit to add even more to our understanding. Take your time to pore over the pages contained within this guide, and ask questions if you feel unclear on a subject. The stars are yours to explore!


Orion's Echo is both a science-fictional take on classical elements of D&D and a love letter to the Golden Age of science fiction. Rather than being a generic space opera setting, Orion's Echo is intended to immerse players and readers alike in a world that feels like a fresh look at the familiar, and provide an exciting backdrop for planet-hopping adventures in a galaxy full of mystery.

Game System

The world of Orion's Echo is designed to function as the setting of at least one roleplaying campaign using the Hyperlanes tabletop system (created by Scrivened publications), itself an adaptation of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition system modified for a sci-fi flavor. Hyperlanes can be found on DriveThruRPG.


  Orion's Echo is greatly inspired by classic science fiction as a genre, as well as nods to cosmic horror. The process of building the setting has also drawn heavily on the soundtrack of No Man's Sky and an assortment of 20th century filk by various artists.


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