“Precursor” is a term used to describe the beings that came before the species that now inhabit the galaxy. These long dead beings are a constant source of debate, study, and in some sectors, worry. Some have left detailed records of who they were and what they hoped to accomplish, while others have left few clues that they existed beyond ruins and cryptic writings. In some cases, technology has been left behind with strange and wondrous power, which has set off a gold-rush to discover ancient technologies for both power gain and profit.
Below is a smattering of some of the known Precursor species and some details to their origins and the dangers left behind.
The Protheans controlled a vast empire of worlds that stretched across much of worlds that are now part of the Galactic Concord over 30,000 years ago. They were (are) are an amphibious humanoid species with empathic abilities. Much of their record keeping related to the creation of memory stones that they used to house their memories. Those that touch these items have their minds filled with images and sounds of the Protheans that used the stones before. However, few people are able to make sense of the images they are bombarded with, which can lead to sickness, insanity, and in some cases death due to severe brain hemorrhaging.
In 2254, on the planet Eden, while excavating Prothean ruins, workers stumbled upon a complex that housed 500 Protheans in cryogenic suspended animation. After much study and many months of deliberation among members of the Galactic Concord High Council, it was decided to wake a single Prothean. The researchers were unsure if any of the Protheans would be able to survive after such a long time in suspension, but the revival was successful. However, waking that first Prothean initiated the revival sequence for all of the other pods. The newly awakened Protheans were aggressive when confronted by armed guards and sadly, several died during the initial confrontation. However, peaceful, yet tense, talks were established between the Prothean survivors and the Concord delegation. The revival of the Protheans, while kept secret for many months, was eventually leaked and caused an intense stir among both the public and other stellar governments, even among Concord members that are not represented in the High Council. Shock, awe, fear, and anger spread throughout the galaxy. Some wanted the Protheans kept under strict control, especially when the news that they were an aggressive and sometime ruthless people bent on military dominance to control the species they subjugated. Others petitioned the Concord to allow the Protheans to set up a colony and find their own way in the galaxy. What was finally decided was that the Protheans would be allowed to set up a colony where the current colony of Horizon now stands. (This decision was met with fierce opposition and a couple of terrorist attacks against the colony by pro-Human groups outraged that the human colonists had to move to another location on Eden.) The Protheans now number around 1,500 and are provisional members of the Galactic Concord.
The discovery of the Protheans shed light on a few mysteries of the origin of some species and served to only deepen the mystery of others. The Protheans were always romanticized as a peaceful and intellectual people. This was due largely to very few artifacts that could be described as weapons were ever found among Prothean ruins, and most of the artifacts were in the form of memory stones and their architecture spoke of peaceful designs with gardens and brightly lit terraces. However, while Prothean cities and settlements were beautiful and peaceful, they subjugated other species by force and admitted to decimating species that “had the audacity” to fight against the Empire. This has lead to many objections among some Concord members, many of whom have suffered under the yoke of oppressive regimes, to their provisional membership to the Concord. Plus, it has complicated matters in a religious sense for some species. The cephalopod Hanar built a religion around worshipping the Protheans (who they call the “Enkindlers”)
Protheans have stated that the Collectors were a mysterious species even in their time, with the same strange requests as they do today. The Stoneburners and Glassmakers were long dead even in their time as well. They also talked of other species that invaded the galaxy from “elsewhere” and were repelled that sounded very similar to the Illithids that attempted to invade the galaxy in 2216. They also revealed that they were not the creators of the Elder Relays, and that their scholars theorized that the relays have been in existence for far longer than the Protheans were a sentient species. Also, they mention a species whose description is very close to what researchers today know as the Prometheans that they had some sporadic and even violent contact with, which puts a wrinkle into the theory that the Prometheans were a driving force in the development and near-dominance of humanoid life throughout the known galaxy.
Stoneburners: (Taken from the Alternity Alien Compendium by TSR) The Stoneburners are a mysterious cephalopod species that left strange, and often times sinister, ruins on dozens of worlds in the Ullarus Sector and especially on the planet Yellow Sky in the Tychus system. Due to the heavily chlorinated atmosphere metallurgy was impossible, so the Stoneburners studied more “esoteric” sciences that seem more like magic to contemporary scientists. They seemingly colonized other worlds by opening dimensional portals. They were also masters of genetic and matter manipulation. Stoneburner ruins have been deemed off-limits to Concord researchers as well as by many other stellar governments. This is due primarily to the strange fluted black spires that comprise the sites are guarded by stasis fields, automated defenses, surviving horrors of Stoneburner genetic experiments, and the danger of the creatures known as Dimensional Horrors. Still, scientists still get funding (and a healthy dose of military back-up) to set up orbital outposts to study these sites in hopes of unraveling some of the secrets of Stoneburner science.
Glassmakers: (Taken from the Alternity Alien Compendium by TSR) The Glassmakers are a seemingly extinct species that colonized many systems throughout the sectors that make up the stellar region known as The Verge. The planet of High Mojave in the Mantebron system (in sector Verge Delta 5) has the highest concentration of Glassmaker sites, with dozens of complexes scattered throughout the planet. Glassmakers are called such because their technology consisted primarily of energy conducting substances not unlike glass. However, the “glass” created by the Glassmakers is much stronger and resistant to damage, with a tensile strength on par with advanced steel alloys. They were also adept as the creation of constructs made from these substances as well. One of the Glassmaker creations, the Arachnon, blurs the line between a living being and artificial construct. The Orbweavers found at the centers of several Glassmaker sites are essentially living fiber optic computers. The Arachnons encountered have all being violently aggressive, but a few Orbweavers have proven to be quite helpful to those that discover them, but are still cryptic with much of their information on their creators and their sciences. Most Orbweavers, however, have been merciless in their defense of their installations. Whether this is a sign that they have intelligences of their own or a sign of differing factions in Glassmaker society is unclear. Virtually nothing is known about what the Glassmakers looked like. It is theorized that they may have been an arachnid-like species due to the appearance of their creations and the web-like construction of their ruins.
The Prometheans or “Seeders” as they are sometimes called were a humanoid species credited with the evolution of humanoid life throughout much of the galaxy. Very little is known about these beings except that they were an ancient species of powerfully built humanoids that stood nearly 2.5 meters tall. Only a few Promethean ruins have been discovered, one of which contained remains of some members of the species. What is known is that they were a space-faring species that studied heavily in genetic manipulation. They experimented with their own genetic code, which shares similarities with many other species from humans, to vulcans, to even “animalistic” species like the Vargr and Caitians, and even much of the mundane animal life on many planets leading some researchers to suggest that they also experimented with blending their genetics with that of animals as well. This theory of “Promethean Seeding” (also called the “Unified Theory of Evolution”) is still widely discredited, but thanks to research into the extremely adaptable Promethean DNA structure it has gained momentum and even acceptance in the scientific community.
Most Promethean sites are on interdicted planets. It appears that the Prometheans weren’t solely concerned with the creation of intelligent, even benevolent, life, but also created horrors as well. It isn’t certain, but the presence of the dreaded Xenomorphs on several of the planets that hold Promethean ruins seems to suggest they were behind the creation of these terrors.
Much like the Protheans, Prometheans have become the focus of religious cults. While none of their “Seeder Cults” match the size of Hanar Enkindler worship, they can be found in more systems. Few of these cults are connected to each other, and most have vastly different focuses of worship. Most are benign, but some of the cults have been classified as dangerous terrorist groups thanks to their desire to capture and study Xenomorphs in order to “unleash the righteous fury of the Creators upon the sinful galaxy.”
Preservers: The Preservers are sometimes theorized to be the same as the Prometheans, but among scientists that don’t adhere the theory of Promethean Seeding they posit that the Preservers are largely to credit with the vast number of very similar species found throughout the galaxy. These researchers point out the number of planets discovered to house human, fraal, and Eldar-like lifeforms that appear to have developed out of specific societies like the Platonians that appear to have developed from an ancient Greek society, and the Amerinds that have a distinctly Native American culture. Most of these planets have no sign of there having been any other lifeforms present, although Amerind did have an advanced planetary defense system in place to protect the planet from the numerous planet-killer meteors found in the system. Plus, those that scoff at the theory of the Preservers point out that many of these species are different from humans in subtle, yet important ways that can’t entirely be attributed to environmental adaptations. They suggest that certain society-forms are inherent to similar species. In any case, there is little to no physical evidence to suggest the existence of the Preservers beyond the similarities in societies.