Something that has been buzzing through my head.
There are five cycles of life in the known universe.
First, a race develops intelligence and crawls out of the mud. They are the primitive, explaining what they see through mythology and imagining the existence of gods.
Second, a race develops technology and replaces superstition with rationality. They are the learners, struggling to understand the processes that drove their forbearers towards intelligence.
Third, a race develops space travel and reaches out beyond the horizon. They explore the universe, meet new friends and enemies, and take their place among the stars.
Fourth, a race evolves to the point where they become beings of energy, with powers that seem godlike to the lesser races. They withdraw from contact with the galaxy and start to develop their own mentalities. The petty struggles between Third Cycle races no longer concern them.
Fifth, a race opens a gateway into the Vale, a higher dimension, and leaves the mortal plane forever….
…And what happens after that, nobody knows.
Some races never develop technology, or are destroyed by their own success. Others in the First and Second Cycle meet Third Cycle races and are overwhelmed by them, their development short-circuited and terminated. Some survive and eventually evolve past the cultural shock caused by meeting more advanced races, others decay and become little more than scavengers, feeding on the leavings of more advanced races.
But what happens when one race tries to jump ahead of itself?