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The setting describes a galaxy under the dominion of the Dragon Empire. The Dragon Empire is a huge bureaucracy, ruled over by the ten houses of dragons, five chromatic and five metallic, led by Mezzenbone, a red dragon of immense might and evil disposition, who sometimes travels on board The Maleficant, one of the few remaining immense Dreadnought class warship spacecraft.
Across the galaxy, the same fantasy races are found to inhabit countless worlds, sometimes living in great technological civilizations or magically advanced medieval cultures. When the inhabitants of many of these worlds took to the stars by magic or machine (usually both), they were amazed by their similarities. Even their languages were the same, although different dialects had evolved on the various worlds. Both scientists and archmages alike tried to come up with a logical explanation of why most worlds were almost the same, but they were stumped. Eventually, a predominant religious leader of unknown origin emerged and propose that all the gods of every religion were the same, just different aspects of the twelve "True Gods." All the myriad gods of the various planetary religions are just reflections of these same 12 "Deitypes" (Deity Archetypes) with the Deitypes being basic, primordial, archetypal icons such as The Father, The Mother, The Magus, The Smith, The Destroyer, The Trickster, and so on; the deities of some of the more sophisticated planetary religions are hybrid composite reflections of two or more of the Deitypes. This theory answered the otherwise baffling question of why the multitudes of worlds across the galaxy bore beings and races that were nearly identical to each other in biology, appearance, culture, and even language; it was because these 12 universal Deitypes seeded them all across the life supporting worlds of the galaxy. This new religion formed the basis of an emerging unified interstellar culture, which the dragons eventually rose to dominate and unite under a single massive Dragon Empire which rules all of known inhabited space, assimilating newly discovered inhabited planets along the edge of the Empire, also known as the Outlands.
The Dragonstar setting can easily combine preexisting Dungeons & Dragons and other D20 material and settings. A PC group can be made up of character races and classes in any combination and be rationally integrated with little work. It is similar to the classic Spelljammer setting by TSR, although Spelljammer was essentially "fantasy in space", with all space travel explained through magic rather than technology and set in a fantastical version of outer space loosely based on the Platonic model of the heavens, with planetary systems contained within "crystal spheres" separated by oceans of phlogiston. Conversely, Dragonstar is more science fantasy and space opera; fighters use lasers, machine guns, robots and grenades alongside their classic longswords (albeit longswords now made of advanced synthetic composites with diamond-edged blades,) while wizards armed with laser pistols and magic wands fly through the void using magical spells to protect them from the vacuum. Characters travel through solar systems in a scientifically realistic outer space via technological starships propelled by Starcaster drives, gigantic magical artifacts connected to navigational computers allowing the ships to teleport between stars; a basic premise of the setting is that advanced technology is sufficient to handle most tasks, but things that are considered impossible by our current understanding of physics, such as faster-than-light travel between stars, force-fields, and teleportation, are accomplished with magic.
The game was first announced on the Fantasy Flight website on December 5, 2001, and the company ceased supporting the game between 2007 and 2008. By the end of 2008 the game support page had been removed. FFG has made no further product announcements on the game since that time.
The following products were published for the Dragonstar campaign setting:
- DS01 Starfarer's Handbook
- DS02 Guide to the Galaxy
- DS03 Imperial Supply
- DS04 Player's Companion
- DS05 Galactic Races
- DS06 Smuggler's Run
- DS08 Essential Collection (Contained DS01, DS02, DS03, DS04 and DS06)
- Pook, Matthew (2003-02-05). "Galactic Races (for Dragonstar)". Pyramid (online) (Steve Jackson Games). Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- Pook, Matthew (2002-01-25). "Pyramid Pick Dragonstar: Starfarer's Handbook (for d20)". Pyramid (online) (Steve Jackson Games). Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- Pook, Matthew (2003-08-29). "Pyramid Review Heart of the Machine (for Dragonstar)". Pyramid (online) (Steve Jackson Games). Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- Reaban, Jeremy (2003-06-09). "Review of Dragonstar Player's Companion". RPGnet. Retrieved 2008-07-10.