History is broken in Starfinder. No matter where you go, from the myriad mortal worlds floating in space to the strange realms of the gods, you’ll find the same thing: historical records go back a few centuries and then suddenly go blank or contradictory, shifting randomly between readings and becoming reliable again only when referring to the dim and misty ages of the ancient past. What’s more, this hole torn in history isn’t restricted to blurred photographs and garbled almanacs. Modern history begins with accounts of worlds across the multiverse erupting in riots and panic as those living through this transition found their memories suddenly blank or unreliable. While these people retained all the knowledge, skills, and interpersonal connections from their lives, specific memories became difficult or impossible to retrieve—a woman might have instinctively known a million tiny details about her spouse but have had no concept of how they met or how long they’d been married. Nations forgot why they were at war. Angels lost track of sinners’ indiscretions. Everything in motion remained in motion, but without context or reason.
Some cultures collapsed in fire and famine, but most societies, faced with no other choice, simply gritted their teeth and carried on, either attempting to piece together their traditions from the unreliable shreds of the past, or else using their amnesia as a chance to reinvent themselves, unshackled from whatever they might have been before. Those races that reproduced faster had the advantage, as children born into a world without recent history accepted the fresh start as natural—new historical records and memories held firm, and that was all that mattered. Gradually, order reestablished itself.
Today, roughly 3 centuries after the obscured period now referred to as the Gap, most societies view the historical cataclysm with little interest, save for the cryptoarchaeologists, salvagers, and scientists who attempt to unearth and reverse engineer wondrous artifacts from the lost age. For everyone else, the focus is on creating new history, moving ever onward and upward.
No one has ever been able to say for certain what caused the Gap, as even the gods themselves remain steadfastly silent (or ignorant) regarding the matter. Nevertheless, theories abound, the most popular being that the Gap was a quantum ripple effect caused by the discovery and use of Drift technology, a hole torn in history and traveling backward in time, possibly entangling our timeline with those of alternate universes. Others argue that the Gap was caused by whatever magic whisked away the planet Golarion, a magical resonance that stretched forward and backward, its tremors gaining strength until they eventually shattered the fundamental structure of time.
What is known, however, is that while the Gap is universal— and a combination of carbon dating and astrochronology suggest it lasted several millennia—its edges are geotemporally inconsistent. Where one star system might have accurate records stretching back 300 years from the present, worlds in different parts of the galaxy might have 310 years of history, or only 275. Some scholars have even uncovered rare “caches” within the Gap—places where accounts seem suddenly consistent for a given period or topic. For an organization like the Starfinders, locating these scattered bread crumbs and syncing them up with ancient pre-Gap records may yet hold the key to unraveling the greatest mystery of the universe.