Precursors are a speculative fiction trope that functions as a narrative device and sometimes even appears as a character. The Precursors refers to one or more intelligent species that predates mankind. In ancient times, the precursors spread throughout the universe, possibly seeded the galaxy with life, and then vanished.
Species which have managed most of the above, except for the vanishing bit, tend to be sufficiently advanced aliens.
Naturally enough, they also created any precursor artifacts - whether for good, evil or mystery. How long ago the precursors vanished will determine whether or not such artifacts are remarkable merely by their survival or not … and of course, what the precursors intended them to be used for, and what they are actually used for may be two very different things.
An outside possibility may also be that the precursors are still around but have transformed into a state in which they are no longer recognised - perhaps by regression into primitives or by uploading their consciousness into computers. An existing involved species - sufficiently advanced or otherwise - may have a secret group of precursors under their care somewhere1.
What happened to them:
Things associated with Precursors:
Game and Story Use
- Precursors make a great source of plot devices and magic items. They can have all sorts of superscience technology or magic and powers, capable of doing anything. Since it's so advanced, the PCs will be unable to duplicate or repair such devices, and they won't be available for purchase at any old Ye Olde Magick Shoppe. As a result, the GM has the ability to fine-tune how much uberpower is available in the campaign.
- On the other hand, some care needs be taken to keep things fun for the players. Some players really enjoy the scavenger hunt of gathering up precursor artifacts, while others may be annoyed that the best toys are so tightly controlled by the GM.