Monday, April 24, 2017

States, nations and polities of the New Alderamin sector, part II

Following up on this post, here's the next part.  To avoid these posts becoming too long, I'm going to probably going to have ended up splitting the list into thirds.
  1. The Dhangetan Cartel—I've talked a fair bit about the Dhangetan's themselves, mostly on the planet entries for Tar Dhangeta and Tars Bruttium so I'll avoid repeating myself here.  The actual Dhangetan alien species, who look like Tsathoggua with gug-like arms and legs and reproduce through budding, but who eat most of their off-spring anyway so as not to compete with them is a nice enough place to start, but really in actual practice they are less Lovecraftian and more a combination of Fu Manchus and Barbary corsair beys in space.  The Dhangetans are, of course, really quite rare even in their own feudal state.  For the most part, they represent lone warlords, loosely allied together, who rule over conquered nations.  So, the Dhangetan Cartel, unlike human states such as the Bern Monarchy (which is mostly settled, peopled, governed and ruled by humans of Earth-stock) is ruled over by only a few Dhangetans, and is peopled mostly by aliens that have been conquered by the Dhangetans or their allies.  Many humans live here, and many planets were originally human-settled, or human-majority planets, although a rather bewildering array of other aliens also live here and do much of the day-to-day work of running commerce, the state, and whatever else is done.  The Dhangetan cartel would therefore be equivalent to their Barbary Coast: Salé, Rabbat, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, etc.  The really scary thing to its neighbors is the more secretive infiltration of the Dhangetans, however, and how much they may or may not be pulling strings behind the scenes more broadly than within Cartel-space per se.
  2. The Seraean Empire—If you can imagine a totalitarian empire like the Nazis or the Soviets, but ruled over by a long-standing Lovecraftian cult of psychics, mystics and warlocks, then you're on the right track to understanding the Seraean Empire.  The core Seraean population is a group of xenohumans who have a chalky gray-white skin tone, and often pale white or gray hair, and nearly colorless eyes.  This isn't a lack of pigmentation, as in Earth-stock albinos; they actually are pigmented with a different compound other than melanin to appear chalky gray-white.  The Old Ones of Phobetor have a similar appearance (albeit usually with black hair), but that appears to be coincidental, as DNA studies do not show a close relationship.  Other types of humans and even aliens also live and work in the Empire, although often in lower castes than the ethnic Seraeans themselves.  These other humans and aliens are more common and more politically prominent the further away from the center of the Empire you get; since the New Alderamin sector only has the far western edge of the empire (this is even more true in some colonies, such as the Outremer region).  The Seraeans obviously have designs on conquering literally everything that they know about, but they're patient, and know that such would be the work of many generations.  In the meantime, other states can get along with them—after a fashion—although few trust or like them.
  3. The Carrick Grand Marches—The largest Bernese colony; seven contiguous systems, plus another four closely allied native ones is, of course, a major political organization, even if it were to be independent.  Backed by the Monarchy (albeit rather far, and separated by the better part of at least a couple of months of bulk jumps from even the nearest leading edge of regular, uninterrupted Bernese space), Grand Duke Ander Gadriar is a conscientious ruler, highly regarded locally, and considered a rather romantic, heroic figure back at home.  This isn't unfair to the real Grand Duke, but it also ignores an important part of his character—he disliked Maddav Bern personally, and was a man of action, frustrated and annoyed by the cloying atmosphere at Court in Dimidium.  Although he still retains an estate on Dimidium Secundus itself, and his brother rules a grand duchy within the Monarchy proper, Ander was able to maneuver himself to be appointed Grand Duke for himself and his heirs to Carrick.  Carrick was originally established by rather fractious laborers, former soldiers, and merchants who disliked being told what to do, and have often been troublesome for prior leaders sent to govern the colony (less than fifty years ago, they actually murdered the Grand Duke and declared independence, although the popular support wasn't with them as they thought, and the instigators mostly were either executed for treason or fled to Dhangetan space or the Carthen colony.)  Ander Gadriar has managed to gain and maintain their trust, confidence and respect, however.
  4. The Carthen Colony—The history of the Carthen Colony is a little bit unusual; it is actually an expansion from the Carrick Grand Marches.  Many of the insurgents mentioned above fled to this sparsely populated section of the colony and continued to press their claims for independence.  The Republic, sensing an opportunity, offered to back them.  Within a few years, the Republic had managed to maneuver the Carthen systems into accepting direct Republic rule, and it became the Carthen colony.  However, they found that the independent nature of the people already living there, as well as their deep-rooted cultural ties to Carrick (in spite of their political disagreement) meant that they were unable to turn into a regular Republic-ruled colony.  Some of the bigger cities still operate much like any other Republic city, but once you get a few miles beyond city limits, or out of the major port areas in space, Carthen looks a lot more like a part of Carrick.  Tensions between the Republic and the Monarchy have occasionally arisen due to this odd situation here, but in the last several decades, the tensions have been more local than otherwise.  Republic troops and secret police attempt to ensure that rumors of secession and realignment with Carrick don't materialize, but their attempts to crack down actually make it more likely rather than less.  The cultural Carricks who make up much of the bedrock of the population simply dislike being told what to do too much for the Republic to ever manage them effectively.  A few leaders have started to realize this, and are actively attempting to swamp the colony with people of other stock in an attempt to overwhelm them politically, but this will also be the work of a few generations before it really comes to full fruition.
  5. The Rhyne Colony—The Rhyne Colony is much more a small slice of the standard Republic in population and culture, just geographically separated from it.  Ethnically much more similar to the rest of the Republic (some of which are of Earth-stock, but many of which belong to one of two xenohuman breeds; either bright red skinned with dark hair and pale blue eyes, or pale-skinned with dark brown eyes and natural hair colors that are bright red, green, blue, lavender, etc.—Psarians and Jaffans, respectively) as well as many aliens.  This is also the vector by which the swamping of Carthen by more loyal Republicans instead of fractious and individualistic Bernese is happening; something that the Carthens are just now beginning to realize.  In general, the whole Rhyne, Carthen and Carrick situation is much more of an impending powder-keg than most realize.
  6. The Bechtel Marches—Compared to Carrick, Bechtel is in relatively good shape.  More or less peaceful relationships exist between Bechtel and the Cilindareans and the Altairans.  In fact, they're so peaceful, that many Bernese from Bechtel are getting excited and taking up arms against Outremer and the Calder Settlements as privateers with letters of marque issued by the Altairans, usually, although some are by the Machesk Counts.  The Bechtelians are starting to get a reputation as troublemakers because of this, and the margrave, who spends most of his time in Dimidium anyway, has found suddenly that his position is threatened as King Bern is rapidly losing confidence in his ability to prevent trouble from seeping out of his colony.
  7. The Altairan Ascendancy (North)—The blue-skinned Altairans are a significant interstellar race that almost rivaled those of Earth-stock in forming the old Marian Empire, but their numbers and influence have been on the decline for many, many generations.  While there are still many of them that live in the Monarchy, in the Republic, and in this sector as a whole either as a minority population, or on small, independent worlds, their relatively large Altairan Ascendancy was a point of pride for the people overall.  Until recently, most of subsectors III-1 and IV-1, as well as parts of III-2 and IV-2 all belonged to this multiworld federation.  Crusaders from the Empire have conquered nearly half of its territory in the last century, though—killing and/or enslaving untold millions of Altairans as they established the brutal Crusader States of Outremer.  Now, the Altairan Ascendancy is split in two; the "North" and the "South".  Two brothers rule here; Konaii Goaulda is the king of the North part.  The South is more isolated, and unable to effectively coordinate with any allies; the North, on the other hand, is surrounded by smaller polities that are more sympathetic to it than they are to Outremer (although many would just as soon see it fall expecting that they could gobble up some of it in the wake of the fiasco.)
  8. The Principality of Tan Kajak—The first of the Imperial "Crusader States"—now, keep in mind that I actually see the historical Crusader States are protagonists and sympathetic for the most part; I have rejected the false narrative that the Crusaders were the villains there.  Nonetheless, the crusaders in this sector are Imperial crusaders, and their religion isn't Christianity, it's a Lovecraftian daemon-worshipping cult.  So the Crusader states in this domain are definitely antagonist states; independent and powerful entities from the Empire that wanted to rule their own powerful states autonomously, and had enough political, financial and military wherewithal to do so.  The Principality of Tan Kajak; named for the Crusader King who established it, this one is very "normal" in most respects, for an Imperial territory.  Compared to the contentious and individualistic lords of Outremer, this is much more like territory that you'd expect to find within the Empire itself; just with a large, native conquered underclass and more mercenaries and other auxiliary troops that help support the continued occupation.
  9. Outremer—I pulled the name from the Frankish and Norman French term for "overseas" which was used as a nickname for the Crusader states overall, but a correspondence is not to be expected too closely.  As I said for Tan Kajak above and for Thanatos specifically, this was as much about reclaiming the Empire's heritage, in their minds at least, as it was anything else.  Having a powerful colony on the other side of the sector from the main border of the Empire was only a desirable side effect.  In many ways, though, the colony is too fractious and contentious and independent-minded to really serve as a proper beachhead for Imperial culture and expansion; Tan Kajak does a better job than that.  Still, situated smack dab in the middle of a political hot spot, and surrounded on all sides by polities that are rivals if not outright enemies, Outremer has done a fantastic job of maintaining itself in spite of mounting political and military difficulties.

Friday, April 21, 2017

More on mapping the New Alderamin sector

With regards to the polities listed in my last post, I should maybe say a little something about each of them.  In fact, I think it's crucial to do so if I'm going to have a coherent mapping strategy going forward.  In fact again, I think that maybe a more scattershot mapping strategy would be better than systematically going through the entire map starting at the top left corner and doing every subsector in order.  I've already added the planets that I've already detailed, and am starting to think that focusing first on the areas and systems that are most likely to be useful and/or interesting is a lot better than starting in an area that is of least utility or interest, from either a gaming or a fiction perspective either one.  I don't know what made me flirt with abandoning my commitment to Ray Winninger's very sensible First Rule of Dungeoncraft:
Never force yourself to create more than you must. Write this rule on the inside cover of your Dungeon Master Guide. Failure to obey the First Rule has been the downfall of too many campaigns. You shouldn't feel compelled to create more information or detail than you'll need to conduct the next couple of game sessions. When some DMs sit down to create a new campaign, they are strongly tempted to draw dozens of maps, create hundreds of NPCs, and write histories of the campaign world stretching back thousands of years. While having this sort of information at your disposal can't hurt, it probably won't help—not for a long time yet. Spending lots of time on extraneous details now only slows you down, perhaps to the point where you lose interest in the game before it starts. For now, the goal is to figure out exactly what information you'll need to conduct your first few game sessions. You can fill in the holes later, as it becomes necessary. This approach not only gets you up and playing as quickly as possible but also keeps your options open and allows you to tailor the campaign around the input of the players and the outcome of their adventures. In this spirit, you should aim to start your campaign as soon as you can, while doing as little preliminary design as possible.
It was sensible advice for running an AD&D campaign, when he wrote it.  It's sensible advice for running a space opera game.  Heck, it's sensible advice for writing fiction.  Some setting detail is important (and he spends many columns talking about which ones he thinks are important and why) and settings can be fun to tinker with for their own sake.  But if you're spending an inordinate amount of time creating details that you're not even interested in, you're just going to struggle with the whole project.  So, with that in mind, I'm probably going to focus on creating interesting worlds (using a fair bit of randomization) but then placing them a bit more strategically rather than completely randomly, or systematically.  Like I said earlier; although the Bern Monarchy and the Revanchist Republic are mostly off-screen except for a tiny edge of their official borders, even the very edge of their official borders are not really where the action is.  Mapping systematically means that I spend a lot of time initially mapping star systems that I'm deliberately saying are not going to be the interesting ones.  How about... let's save those for last.

In fact, it's entirely possible that I can deliberately leave some of these hexes that I've color coded undefined so that they can be filled later as needed rather that predefined up front.  The central area of the map is really the important one.  If the sector has four domains (and it does) it's curiously a domain's worth of subsectors (roughly) that make up the four corners area that's going to be the most interesting.  Maybe even shifted a little bit further south than that—as I got out of the more established polities into the real colonies and independent groups that weren't openly allied with one of the Great Powers, I think the sector got more and more interesting.  The top third of the map feels kind of boring and pacified in my head compared to the bottom two thirds or so.

So I'm really thinking that the "protagonist" polities are going to be the Bern colonies, for the most part: the Carrick Grand Marches, the Bechtel Marches, the Machesk Frontier, the Emerus Marches and the Viomius Marches.  The main antagonist polities are going to be the Empire itself, Outremer, and the Principality of Tan Kajak.  Rivals and usually enemies due to poor and tyrannical leadership (but otherwise full of common people who aren't all that bad, necessarily) polities will be the Republic allied ones: the Rhyne Colony, the Carthen Colony, the Calder Settlements, etc.  The same is true to another extent with other groups like the Altairan Ascendancy, the Takach Kingdom, and the Cilindareans.  The Reaver Worlds and the Dhangetan Cartel make everyone wary because they're dangerous and unpredictable, but they're not as overtly and unremittingly hostile, in some respects, as the Empire, if only because in spite of their potential violence they're not Empire builders, and raiding or other criminal enterprises are more important to them than colonizing or conquering.

Now, I mentioned briefly that I see the "tone" of the Revanchist Republic as overtly socialist in most respects.  Like the modern SJWs combined with the Soviets, but that's the elite—the common people are more like the regular, good old people of Europe and European diaspora nations (Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand, etc.)  So, they can't be the protagonist polity, because they're exasperating and dangerous and their leadership is corrupt and compromised.  The Empire is more based on fictional evil Dark Lord empires than a true historical or real-life prototype.  The Bern Monarchy is therefore the Golden Age of European Confidence; kind of like the British Empire at its peak.  I should probably say that I'm no Moldbugger, and I'm glad that my ancestors fought the British Empire at its peak for their independence.  The Bern Monarchs aren't great people, and it's not a great system.  That's part of the reason that the colonies are what they are—and the fact that they're kind of cut-off in many ways from the parent empire means that they operate in a de facto autonomous state anyway.  But don't make too much of the fact that I call it the "protagonist" nation.  It probably doesn't mean as much in my head as you think it does.

Anyway, all that said; let's do a quick and dirty summary of all of the nations, if you will, that I've so far called out, so I can have a summary at hand when I need it.
  1. The Bern Monarchy—Located mostly to the north-northwest of this sector, this is one of the three big Great Powers, and its full extent is easily a sector and a half or so in breadth, if not more.  Only the southern edge of it can be seen in this sector.  Like I said earlier, I see this as a space-faring analog, in some ways, to the British Empire at its peak—although in terms of names and imagery, it probably hearkens back more to the Roman Empire.  In space.  It's fairly stable, and offers a relatively high standard of living, both in terms of sociality, freedom, and wealth to its citizens.  As with any hereditary government system, there are good rulers and bad ones, and the bad ones can make life miserable for everyone (current monarch is Maddav Bern III, Rex.  He's OK.  Neither great nor terrible, and generally caught up in personal rather than political or social pursuits, which tends to be preferable.  Nobody likes a monarch who meddles too much in their daily lives.)  It's also known from time to time for atrocities perpetuated against natives, wars and rivalries that benefit its elite to the detriment of its citizens, and more.  By and large, the colonists who've settled the colonies located elsewhere in this sector have left the Monarchy proper to escape its overbearing class system and systemic bureaucracy, pursue greater economic opportunities, or to have the freedom to practice ideologies, religions, or philosophies that the Monarchy stifles.  The citizens are mostly of Earth-descent, and will have names that are kind of what either ethnic Americans would look like in a thousand years or so, or I've given them Roman-sounding names just because.
  2. The Cepheid Union—A client state that has been associated with the Monarchy for some time, but which has its own king and nobility.  Although they've absorbed an awful lot of culture from the Monarchy over centuries of influence and contact, and have in the past been part of the Monarchy, they are today an independent kingdom, and strong allies of the Berns.  Think of them as somewhat similar to Britannia in relation to Rome after Rome officially left, or maybe the Irish in relation to the English.  Prolonged exposure to the Monarchy (and others) has left many of these worlds more cosmopolitan than they otherwise would be, but the original Cepheid peoples who settled these worlds (many in the years during or even before the Marian Empire) are not human; they are anthropomorphic reptiles with flat, nearly noseless faces, sharp teeth in wide mouths, slit pupils, prominent scutes and scales over much of their skin, no hair of any kind, and nictitating membranes.  (Think of the physical appearance of the Mortal Kombat Saurians like Reptile and you're on the right track.)  Their long association with the Berns means that you often see Cepheids wherever Bern humans are.
  3. The Kusa Kymni Group—This small little nation is the home of the Kusans, half-sized humanoids with four spider-like eyes, mandibles that feature lots of spiny moving parts and chitinous plates and pathy, stiff hair over much of their skin.  They are often considered something like rats or cockroaches throughout the sector (and beyond); more infamous for being underfoot than anything else, and the correlation of the amount of Kusans with the degree of squalor and seediness is nearly equally notorious.  Like rats, they seem to thrive where nearly any other sentient being would disdain to even try to live, if they can help it.  It's probably tongue in cheek, but the saying is that urban blight is the Kusans native habitat.  In spite of their ubiquitousness in the slums, ghettos, and even landfills and graveyards of known space, they had to have originally come from somewhere, and this seems to be the best candidate; it's the only small set of worlds populated almost entirely by Kusans and the only one where they have a government of their own.  Sandwiched between the easternmost extension of the Cilindarean Arm, the southern border of the Bern Monarchy, and the Cepheid Union, not to mention a few independent worlds here and there, it's probably mostly been left alone because nobody else is interested in it.  It's not crucial as a travel route, and the worlds themselves are largely worthless by most species' standards.  In fact, some of them seem to have been little more than system-sized landfills during the old Marian Empire's days.  These planets are poor, their services and resources are not in demand, but to the Kusans all throughout their known space-wide diaspora, it's kind of the iconic, almost mythic home that they can always return to someday.
  4. The Syra Vorte—These feisty worlds were one of the first to split off the Marian Empire as
    it began its decline, when they were yet still surrounded by Marian space.  In return, they were invaded and subjected to decades of on again off again guerrilla warfare, but they managed to hold on to their independence.  The Berns have not tried to claim their system, despite bordering it, and subversive agents of the Republic have been dealt with harshly.  Syrans are a strange humanoid alien with baggy and wrinkled hairless, grayish skin, a wide, curved mouth with two pointed fangs in the very front that hang outside on the lower lip, and eyes sunk so deep into pits that they are not readily visible.  Today, they run their government on these planets as an independent corporation, crafting, making, selling and distributing high quality items of various kinds.  Rather than a traditional government, they all belong to a corporation, and are structured like a big company.  Occasionally citizens of the Syra Vorte get "fired" and have to leave; most of them making their way to the nearby Acton Emirate in that case, where large numbers of their kind also live.  In fact, the Acton Emirate was once part of the Syra Vorte many centuries ago before being conquered by an emir of the Dhangetans, who rules it now.
  5. The Acton Emirate—The Actons were a "family" of Dhangetans—a powerful and conniving Dhangetan and his most promising budded offspring (presumably he ate the rest, as is their wont) wandered off on his own and established his own sovereign emirate after conquering several small independent worlds and parts of the Syra Vorte.  His descendants still rule here today.  In the past, it wasn't quite so isolated from the rest of the Cartel, however—these descendants are now somewhat feeling the squeeze of Revanchism, the nearby Monarchy border, and resentful Syrans who'd love to reclaim worlds that were once theres.  The Actons, therefore, are highly militarized for a Dhangetan set of worlds, with large number of poorly armed slaves and other peasants, an ever-growing legion of combat droids and elite Cilindarean and Janissary and psionic knight mercenaries.  Unusually, for a Dhangetan polity, there is a secret police here who keep a wary eye out for enemy agents and subversives, who tend most commonly to come from nearly Republic worlds, and they crack down on them very harshly.  An unexpected and unanticipated consequence of this attempt to crack down on potential threats is the increase in security from the Dhangetan norm, where only the strong dare venture for fear of being set upon by bands of thugs who have no official deterrence to commit whatever violence they think they can get away with.  This has had the side effect of making the Acton Emirate more stable, more secure, and more wealthy—but in some ways, it threatens the unique culture of the Dhangetans and threatens to make them more mainstream.  For the most part, the Dhangetans don't really care one way or another, but some of the others who live here tend to come for the "Dhangetan charm" and don't want to lose it.
  6. The Tearaxian Federation—This small group of worlds colonized by the central one, which is a large world, and the natives are therefore "hulks"—large, robust build and strength beyond that of most normal folks in known space.  Tearaxian hulks are red-skinned and have adopted or adapted a techno-organic system that grows with them that is implanted naturally at some point in the womb from electronic developments in the mother, making them just about the only known natural born cyborgs.  This techno-organic lattice is a small electrical system that runs throughout their body, and can "overclock" them in extreme circumstances, like a nitrous oxide version of adrenaline, in a way. When this happens, their lattice of circuit-board-like tracings glow through their skin, giving them a dramatic appearance.  The Republic was always intimidated by the Tearaxian hulks, but they tried a rather cowardly orbital bombardment to subdue their systems once.  A boarding action from the surface was swift and decisive, and peace was procured.  The Tearaxians don't really trust the Republic, but they maintain sufficient military strength now as a standing army to provide sufficient deterrence of a repeated conquest attempt.  When troops muster out of their mandatory military service, many of them later hit the space-lanes of known space as adventurers, mercenaries, bounty hunters, or otherwise using their strength and military training to earn some extra credits before coming home and settling down.
  7. The Revanchist Republic—After the fall of the Marian Empire to revolutionary forces combined with criminals and outsider barbarian mercenaries and opportunists, the New Republic set itself up as the successor state.  Plagued by problems (mostly caused by the fact that so many of their supporters were criminals, crazy anarchists, and outsider barbarian opportunists) it gradually shrank and gave up much of its claimed territory to its main ideological rival, the Bern Monarchy, which also set itself up as a successor state to the Marian Empire.  The Monarchy has a better claim in many ways of being something more like the Marian Empire during its time of greatest success, and the Republic looked like it was out for the count.  At one point, they even lost access to their own capital system, Capital Publius, to the Berns.  Finally getting their act together, they organized, militarized, propagandized and mobilized, and now are a growing and intimidating Great Power.  If you want to apply real world analogs to the Revanchist Republic, which has been "liberating" worlds from whatever "tyranny" they suffered under for some time now and grown tremendously from a shrunken rump state to the third largest state in known space, I see it as a bit of the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution and current age decadent US foreign and domestic cuckservative neocon and SJW fascism all rolled into one.  In spite of that, the common people of the Republic are more or less decent folk, oppressed under their crowd-sourced do-gooder-or-else Soviet elite police state.  In many ways, free and independent worlds are almost as wary of the approach of Republican representatives as they are of Imperial ones—at least the Empire shows a sane and stable application of strength (at least, so say its apologists) whereas what the Republic wants from you is a constantly moving target that you have no hope of ever satisfying.
  8. The Cilindarean Arm—I've talked plenty about Cilindarean culture in other posts, especially about the planet Cilindare itself.  The part shown in this sector is about half of their total space, and even they've gotten in the game of expanding far flung colonies out there here and there, as well as making overt alliances across the sector.  Curiously, even within their polity, they've got nearly as many clients as actual official systems.  The Cilindareans can best be viewed as what you'd get if a Nordic version of classic Greek Spartans went into space in high tech battle armor and created a decent sized empire.  Within the Cilindarean sphere, often somewhat integrated, but often with separate "allied" worlds of their own, are the descendants of the Janissaries who fought long ago in the vicious Slave Wars.  Because of a shared ethnic origin, the Janissaries returned to Cilindarean space after their attachment to the Marian Empire was severed, but they found that this "homecoming" was viewed with some suspicion by the Cilindareans, and that they had grown sundered from each other in culture, language, attitude and even physical appearance.  Nevertheless, they still maintain an intertwined existence today.  The biggest and most important import of both ethnic Cilindareans and the spin-off Janissary group is mercenary companies, military advisers, and more.  A few have even taken up privateer careers, operate as bounty hunters, or enforcers for criminal enterprises.  The Dhangetans in particular have had a long-standing relatively friendly relationship with them, only threatened when they Cilindareans expanded eastward at the same time that the Republic was expanding southwestward and the Dhangetans lost space-lane contact with the more far-flung Acton Emirate.
  9. The Mattix Independency—This small little independent island smack dab in the middle of the Cilindarean Arm (and very close to Cilindare itself) seems like it should be swallowed up, but the Cilindareans are extraordinarily respectful of the Mattixes, and not only don't threaten them with territorial swallowing, but have reaffirmed through multiple evergreen treaties that they will, in fact, protect them from any other group that threatens them.  The Mattixes are human-like, but thin, almost ethereal-looking, with glowing eyes, hair and even skin.  They are somewhat isolationist, and travel infrequently (although "as beautiful as the Mattix elfs" is famous as an expression throughout known space.  Sometimes they're called angels instead of elfs).  There is a lot of debate around exactly why the Cilindareans give such deference to the Mattixes and what the Mattixes offer the Cilindareans in return, but there's no answer that has any kind of consensus, really.  It's well known, however, that if anyone among the Cilindareans suggests or attempts to break or renegotiate this deal, that the Anaxaster himself gets involved and puts a decisive stop to it.
Next episode: the next nine polities!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

New Aldemarin Sector polities

Here's the full sector map.  I didn't add much detail, but I did shade it to include the polity boundaries.  It's not perfect (there's a few that have differing political affiliation within each shaded "lump") but it's good for a big picture of the region.

It also doesn't included the really small polities or independent systems.  This is to show the "major" players only.
  1. The Bern Monarchy
  2. The Cepheid Union
  3. Kusa Kymni Group
  4. The Syra Vorte
  5. The Acton Emirate
  6. The Tearaxian Federation
  7. The Revanchist Republic
  8. The Cilindarean Arm
  9. Mattix Independency
  10. The Dhangetan Cartel
  11. The Seraean Empire
  12. The Carrick Grand Marches
  13. The Carthen Colony
  14. The Rhyne Colony
  15. The Bechtel Marches
  16. The Altairan Ascendancy (North)
  17. The Principality of Tan Kajak
  18. Outremer
  19. The Altairan Ascendancy (South)
  20. The Reaver Worlds
  21. The Desai Worlds
  22. The Machesk Frontier
  23. The Calder Settlements
  24. The Takach Kingdom
  25. The Emerus Marches
  26. The Viomium Marches

SE Domain

The final domain.  The sector is done!  This is like a big fantasy map that shows major polities—but with no details.  No towns yet, no rivers, no mountains, etc.  It's just boundaries and rifts in space

Clearly a world subsector defined mostly by a bunch of Cartel worlds and a sizable Bern colony.  I mentioned earlier that I wanted to make sure that Outremer was separated from the Empire (by definition) and you see that there's no way that they can get to Outremer except by traveling through the Cartel or a combination of Cartel and Bern or Republic space (or their allies.)  Allies are often tricky.  Sometimes a rival Great Power will have better luck with passage through an ally, but sometimes worse.  That's a big part of what leads to so much regional tension in this sector.  With the Great Powers trying to secure space-lanes, they almost certainly will want to flip the allegiance of some systems, and most of them aren't picky; outright conquest can sometimes be easier than diplomacy.  32 systems here; a relatively dense subsector!

III-4 is, on the other hand, relatively barren, with rather large rifts and only 23 systems, most of which are clustered in the southern two thirds of the subsector.  The edge of the Cartel just barely hangs over the subsector line, but this is mostly an Imperial sector.

A hodge-podge of different colonies and a few allies and independents—and then on a whim, based just on the geography of how this settled out, I created the Reaver Worlds; a large, powerful federation (that I literally hadn't thought of until right now).  If you think of the Comancheria in about 1850 or so and put it into space, this is what it would look like.  It's a long, thin polity; this is the western half of it.  The eastern half is nearly as large in the last subsector.  I count 28 worlds here; an average density subsector, more or less.

Finally, IV-4—the last subsector.  Unless I miscounted, I got 35 worlds; I think my densest subsector.  Containing the rest of the Reaver Worlds, the rest of the Empire's frontier, and a few other scatterings of other things here and there (including rather precocious colonies by the Berns and Republic, otherwise far from their main areas of strength), we're done!

I get 118 worlds in this domain, which brings the sector total to 421.  In the last domains, I thought I was running a little light, but the law of averages caught up to me, and some more heavily populated sectors here at the end bring me up to within about half a dozen of where I predicted I'd be mathematically.  That means... 414 systems to generate!  The real work; but it's fun work (if it doesn't start getting tedious, that is.)

I won't post the full sector map yet—let me, now that it's filled in, draw out some space-lanes and label some of the polities that are big enough to merit a full label

SW Domain

Just did another domain.  I'll have the whole sector placed and color-coded and ready to start detailing systems by the end of the day easy the rate things are going!
27 systems.  A bit of colonists from the Republic and the Berns, some Cilindarean worlds and a fairly significant petty polity, the Altairan Ascendency (North).

23 systems.  More colonies, including part of Outremer.  Some native clients, some Janissaries or other Cilindarean clients.  I need to remember to be sure and place plenty of native and independent systems here in these southern domains.

25 systems (I do tend to come up a little bit shorter than average, aren't I?  I'll end up closer to 400 when all is said and done than about 425 or so like I thought.)  This includes a few independents, some small Republic presence, the Altairan Ascendency (South) and the Outremer conquests, which (among other things) split the Altairan Ascendency into two.

The rest of Outremer, a decent-sized Bern colony, some more of the Cartel, some Republic and Cilindarean affiliated worlds, and a few independents.  29 systems.  (This domain has a total of 104; the exact same as the NE Domain.  Between the three so-far done, I've got 303 worlds, only seven of which have been detailed.  Lots of work!

A few things pop out when looking at the entire sector (minus the domain that I still haven't mapped); there's a fairly solid line from the top corner up in Republic space to this corner.  There is a small break where they have to piggy-back off of Cartel worlds to continue their run and a few Cilindarean worlds, but they can make a pretty solid run diagonally across the entire sector.

The Berns are not in as strategically envious a position.  The Cilindarean Arm breaks up their main territory in the north from colonies in the South.  There are a handful of allies here and there sprinkled through that territory, but not enough to get from one side to the other.  The Cartel is also broken up into a few "islands" that are not readily reachable without passing through somebody else's territory.  The Cilindareans have a strategically viable position, with only a few isolated systems here and there, though.  Outremer is, of course, separated from the rest of the Empire, but that's to be expected given the name that it has; it's a far-flung Crusader state, not a traditional colony in the traditional sense (although that will be seen more in the last domain when I get there.

I'm not going to post the full sector map again, because I'll just do that when I get the last domain finished.

NE Domain

Using the tool, I'm generating locations much more quickly than I thought I would, so I can fill in political affiliation and have a great template on which to start detailing systems.  In fact, it's coming along so quickly, that I've already done the NE domain as well—I'm halfway done with the sector!

Of course, creating the data sheet posts for each system will be the real work, but let me enjoy the fiery pace at which I'm doing this, at least, for now.

Subsector I-3 is where I first start using some Dhangeti Cartel and Republic systems.  I'm finding that the Dhangeti Cartel is a bit hard to read, because the gray is too similar to the lavender of Imperial client systems.  I may need to turn it to a much darker gray and use white lettering.  We'll see.  It won't be hard to change the colors on the big sector map if needed.

This is a sector with 26 systems.  Some Bern colonies exist here, especially along the top edge, and there are more Bern allies scattered through the system.

There are fewer independents, as this is a more hotly contested region of the galaxy.  Forays from the Republic are along the eastern edge.  Some far-flung worlds with Dhangeti warlords start to pop up.  These are highly separated from the core of Dhangeti space, and represent worlds that have been with the Cartel for a long time.  Some of the intervening space has been conquered and colonized within the last few years (or centuries) cutting off these warlords from having a direct path through guaranteed friendly systems, if they need them.  Because of that, these worlds are concerned about additional colonization attempts, and tend to be heavily militarized compared to most Dhangeti worlds.  They've also attempted to broker friendly travel agreements thorugh additional worlds on their own, and often go back and forth between cozying up to Bern or Republic allies.  Finally, we're reaching the farthest reach, for the most part, of the Cilindarean worlds

Subsector I-4 is the farthest east that this sector (and thus what I'll be mapping) goes, and it is where Republic worlds start showing up in a big way.  Also a bit light on systems (22), there are a handful of lingering independents, including the Tearaxian Worlds running in a small chain right smack in the middle of the subsector.  The Dhangeti worlds here are even more isolated than those in the last subsector, and there is just the barest hint of Bern and Cilindarean influence here.

Of course, keep in mind that this is the frontier of the edge of the mainstream Republic.  Republic colonies (and allies) will continue to be spread throughout much of the rest of the sector.  The Republic worlds here are considered part of their core territory, however—not colonies.

Republic client worlds are often relatively unstable because of the nature of the insidious and subversive Republic propaganda efforts.  More than any other Great Power, the Republic r-strategist government tends to work on the emotional and insecure idea that people who don't agree with them are terrible people who need to be eliminated from known space.  They don't have the power to directly challenge the main powers, but they lean heavily on independents, and petty polities—and even their own allies—to officially buy in completely to what they're selling.  (Yes, I am purposefully making the Republic the polity of modern, liberal SJW-influenced totalitarianism.  What of it?  Some topicality isn't a bad thing.)

Subsector II-3 is a big chunk of the core of the Dhangeti Cartel in the southern half, but there's still some Cilindarean worlds, a handful of Bern colonists, and the influence of the Republic.  There's even an Old One colony as a stepping stone from the Empire to Phobetor, although it's a little out of the way.  For the most part, the Old Ones get along relatively well with the Dhangetans, who are interested in currying favor with the Empire, but who fear the more militaristic and arrogant Shadow Knights and deny them as much influence, or even passage through their territory, if they can.

Big gaps in this sector make traveling from the north to the south difficult unless you're on good terms with either the Republic or are willing to stop off in an Imperial allied world swarming with Old One cultists.  Cilindareans, for instance, sometimes go around altogether.

We;re still only barely starting to see Imperial presence, although we've done almost half of the sector so far.  Our next sector, II-4 is where they start making an apperance in a pretty big way, however.

There are 26 worlds in II-4 (in general, this domain is a bit sparser than the last one: 95 vs. 104).  There are no independent worlds here at all, only Republic colonies (provocatively right on the very edge of Imperial space), some Cartel worlds, and a handful of client rulers who have held on to their positions by making powerful friends with someone.  The one guy who's decided to snuggle up to the faraway Berns is kinda funny, but there are Bern colonies that aren't too far away, I suppose.  He's a little like New Netherland surrounded by British colonies in a way—although not being colored as a colony means that he's an ally, client or puppet, but still a native, not a colonial.

The majority of the Empire is to the east of this sector, but as we go further south, the eastern edge will still have "mainstream" Imperial worlds.  We'll also start seeing a lot more Imperial colonies in the south.  There's another 40-50% or so of the Cartel still to be mapped in the southern range of the sector.  But mostly I've got the major groups blocked in.  The southern sector is where we'll really see more and more of the colonies.  And, of course, native worlds and smaller polities will continue to dot the southern domains, certainly much moreso than they do in this subsector.

Just for fun, here's the full sector map, so you can glance at the color-coding and see what we've got already for the first two domains.  50% done!  For this map, I've already darkened the gray so the Cartel shows up a bit better.

NW Domain

I've talked about sectors and subsectors, but there's another division that Traveller mapping uses; the domain.  Domains are in between; they are a square, 2x2, of subsectors.  There are four subsectors in a domain, and four domains in a sector.

Using this tool, I generated the placement of star systems for I-2, II-1 and II-2 (I ignored everything except for the "yes, there's a system in this hex" or "no there's not" data from the generator) and color-coded them for political affiliation.  I'm a little surprised, looking at the bigger sector map in miniature, that so far my Cilindarean Arm doesn't look as densely green as I expected.  In part, this is because there are holes in the mapping, of course—blank spots without any systems—but also because I sprinkled even the Cilindarean Arm with a allied rather than incorporated worlds (most likely some of these will be Janissary worlds), a few independents here and there, one or two Monarchy-aligned worlds, and of course, as per my post yesterday, I had to put Phobetor in sector II-2, thus paving the way for Seraean Empire allied worlds to come into close contact with some of the others.  I also have a handful of multiworld, yet small petty kingdoms that have resisted the expansion efforts of any of these powers, and remain native realms.

Using the tool to generate placement rather than rolling the dice and correlating my die rolls by hand to hexes is a major time-saver, so it took much less time than I thought.  Of course, the same would be true if I used the tool for everything else too, but honestly, I don't really know the UPP very well, and my own truncated, simplified, and less jargony system generation (including my own hand-crafted percentages of types of worlds) doesn't really work for it.  I also dislike the names that Traveller name generators come up with.  Especially the Vilani names, but even the Solomani names, which should be more familiar, end up being really weird.  I'd have to rework that data so much that it would be easier just to generate it on my own.

Anyway, real quick; let's see what I've got.  Here's I-2, to the immediate galactic east of I-1 which I did yesterday.  Keep in mind that I-1 was a little less dense than I expected, only 22 systems.

I-2 came out more dense; 30 systems.  The average of the two is 26, almost exactly the theoretical average of 26.6667 that the ⅓ density should have.  So that's cool.  I have more Bern worlds here, and less Cilindarean.  A significant petty kingdom sites there in the ivory or pale yellow area, although one far-flung "duchy" of the petty kingdom is somewhat separated from it and it cannot be reached without either doing a risky 4-hex jump, or passing through someone else's territory.  I guess you can think of it as a separated territory like Alaska.

II-1, on the other hand, is much more Cilindarean, but features a relatively big empty space kinda right smack in the middle of the map.

In spite of that, two systems have thrown in their lot with the Monarchy—possibly because they want political and military backing in case Cilindare gets expansionist or belligerent.  A couple of other systems are willing to go it alone.  The light-green are probably Janissary worlds, although maybe not.  Janissaries don't necessarily just live on their own worlds (although many do) but are also integrated to at least some degree in Cilindarean society, so many Janissaries can be expected to be seen on the darker green worlds too.  There are 28 worlds here—only slightly above theoretical average—and with these three subsectors, my domain average is so far is exactly 26.6667.  Curious.  I have 80 worlds in three subsectors, and with a ⅓ density, I got exactly the theoretical average!

According to my noodling yesterday, I decided that Cilindare itself is in this subsector, and I imagine that it is one of those worlds located in the dark green band at the lower right hand corner.

II-2 is the last of the subsectors I just did, and makes up the final piece of the NW domain.

While still strongly Cilindarean in flavor, there's a small native petty kingdom, and a few independent worlds.  One more world has thrown in with the Monarchy.  I wonder if they are looking for advantage against the Cilindareans, or against the petty kingdom which they actually border?  Phobetor is down there in the corner, the leading frontier of Seraean influence, although as you may recall, I suggested that the Outremer region could be not far from here to the immediate southwest.  I expect that the Old Ones have been there a long time, since before the rise of the current polities, in fact, and this may in fact be the edge of a "petty kingdom" of their own, although most Old One cults and their settlements will be allied, if not actively integrated, with Seraean polities.

There are 24 systems here, which brings my average down a small amount, but as you can see, I'm getting very much within the margins of error that I'm expecting for system density.  The variable that you need to put in for this is "scattered" rather than "standard" but I'm considering scattered to be standard for my purposes here.

Just for the heckuvit, here's what I've got so far on my big sector map, so you can see the spread of the political affiliations and the potential for conflict and intrigue that are already starting to take shape.  When we start to get to Republic and Imperial systems in the NE Domain, which I'll do next, you'll really see a lot of that.

As an aside, although my earlier subsector maps used orange to indicate alliance with but not incorporation into the Monarchy, but I've switched to pinkish, which looks more like faded red than orange does, which was easy to confuse with the yellowish independents.  You can see much of this dynamic in the years immediately prior to the Gallic Wars, where there were client kingdoms (of the Romans), non-client kingdoms and allied kingdoms within Gaul.  And there were ethnic differences within Gaul too; both Caesar and Strabo note the Aquitanian, Celtic and Belgic Gauls, and both talk significantly about the cultural and linguistic differences, especially of the Aquitanians (who were probably related to the Basques, actually.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sector New Alderamin Subsector I-1

Let's go through the process of mapping this sector.  This may be tedious, or it may not, but why not document what I'm doing here?  Quite honestly (no offense, mom, and anyone else who might read this post) the only purpose of this blog is for me to archive my thoughts for my own benefit anyway.

So, each subsector consists of 80 hexes.  With a ⅓ density, that means that there should be, on average, 26.666 hexes that have something in them.  The best way to do this is randomization.  I rolled 80 d6s (well, online, anyway) and assigned them in order to a hex.  For every time I got a 5 or a 6, I called it a "hit" and I'll have to generate a star system.

First off, I also looked at my last post, where I placed the star systems that I've already done in the sector.  None of them are in subsector I-1, so I don't have to worry about that, but I do want to be reminded that the Monarchy's southern marches are literally along the northern edge of this sector, and the Cilindan Arm's northern border, on the other hand, will either be at or near the southern border of this subsector.  I imagine that about ⅓ of the star systems in this sector will belong to one of those two powers, another ⅓ will be completely independent, and the last ⅓ will either belong to small petty kingdoms or corporations or what-have-you of only 2-5 worlds or so.  That's all pretty rough, though—in my experience some small massaging of the results is usually desirable.

That said; I wrote all that up before I actually figured out what my results tell me.  Let me put this into practice and we'll see what we get for subsector NA I-1.  I grabbed a blank subsector image and just put a yellow fill in the hexes that had hits.  Let's see if this makes any sense to start with:

I actually think that that's pretty workable.  I got a few less than average with only 22 hits, but that's OK.  There's a nice big cluster right in the center-right of the map, and the rest of it is relatively scattered.  There's some gaps, but nothing that can't be reasonably crossed with a regular starship (remember, that with my rules, no starship can jump more than 3 hexes without being at risk of a misjump.)  I'm OK with a few systems that are far enough flung that risky jumps are needed here and there, but as it turns out, I don't have any.  Sure, you may have to caravan and make stops at more places than you'd like to get somewhere, but doing so you can get to any system in this subsector without having to risk a misjump—for instance, if you want to travel from 0202 to 0601, you can make a risky jump (4 hexes) or travel through 0504, take a little longer, but save yourself the risk.  On the other hand, the maximum amount any ship can jump, even if it's willing to take the risk, is 5 hexes.  If I have any systems that are so far flung that they can't be reached in 5 hexes, then it doesn't do any good, because nobody can ever travel to it.  I don't; but it's important to keep an eye open for them.

Generating all of the details for all of the systems is a more complicated (enough so that each world will merit a unique blog post, as I've done in the past for the worlds I've done.  Eventually, all of those star system data "sheets" will get transferred to my Google site, but for now they're good enough as posts with the data sheet tag so I can find them easily enough.  I do want to, I think, map out the political topography of this subsector a little bit first, though.  So, let me open my the image in Paint again and just do a quick and dirty color fill for political affiliation: red for the Monarchy, orange for the Cepheid Union, a client or puppet state that kowtows to the Monarchy but (at least on paper) is independent.  Darker green is part of the Cilindan Arm, and lighter green are client vassals of the Cilindans.  Those that are truly independent, I'll leave in yellow.  (For some reason, Paint didn't fill the hexes very well, and left yellow borders around them.  Whatever.  This is a quick and dirty sketch/draft at this point anyway, just to block in the allegiances.)

As you can see, this means that I have six worlds that are part of the Monarchy, seven that belong to the Cepheid Union, four that belong to the Cilindans, two that are clients of the Cilindans, and only three that are well and truly independent.  Does this match up with the ⅓, ⅓ and ⅓ plan that I meant to do before I started playing with the fill tool?  Not quite; I got 45% belonging directly to one of the major powers instead of about 33%, and if you count the client/puppet states, that jumps all the way to 86%!  Well, whatever.  Like I said, some massaging of what I thought I was going to do is usually fine.  I like the way it looks.

I'm thinking that adding travel routes and whatnot is best left until the entire sector is complete, so I can make sure that my various subsectors link up in a way that makes sense.  I've also gone and grabbed my big blank sector map and input the color coding there, just so I can be ahead of the game.  I'm going to stick with some of this color coding:

  • Red for the Monarchy
  • Blue for the Revanchist Republic
  • Purple for the Seraean Empire
  • Green for the Cilindan Arm
  • Gray for the Dhangetan Cartel
  • Yellow for true independents
  • Pale yellow for independents that belong to smaller petty groups, so that I can separate them from worlds that are going it solo.
Client or puppet states will be lighter shades of the principle color of the polity to which they owe their allegience, so the Cephean Union will be orangish to match the red of the Monarchy, and the client worlds of the Cilindans will be light green (client worlds of the Republic would be baby blue, for the Seraean Empire would be lavender, etc.)  There may be a fine line between a client state and a colony in actual practice, but I still think you can tell the difference between them if you see them.  Client states are usually governed by natives rather than by colonists.  A colony might well have many natives on it, but the government will be a colonial one rather than a native one who has sworn some kind of allegiance, or paid tribute, or been overtly installed as a puppet in lieu of some former hostile native government.

With that, I think I'll be done for now.  I might do this same exercise for all of the subsectors before I start filling in the actual system details.  I actually think that will help me make sure that it all fits together really well before I worry too much about stuff that will take a lot longer to do.

What's next for Ad Astra mapping?

According to the mapping conventions I've adopted, space is abstracted into a flat hex grid for ease of use, a subsector is 8x10 hexes.  Each hex represents a parsec, or more or less enough space for one solar system.  Each sector is made up of 16 subsectors arranged 4x4.  This means that the total sector is 32x40 hexes (1,280 total), a portrait-shaped map with a lot of data on it.  If we assume a ⅓ standard density, which I will do, then that gives us around 425 star systems, give or take a dozen or so, depending on the vagaries of random generation.  I've got 7 systems that I can place in the sector that I've already generated everything about except their location, which means I've still got probably over 400 to go.  But let's get some mapping conventions out of the way and I'll at least place those seven worlds in a subsector to start with, so I have a high level view of the topography of my sector.

Sectors are a mapping convention that started with the older Republic, so they predate the rise of the current Revanchist Republic and the Bern Monarchy altogether.  However, it's been sufficiently useful that it's taken over almost all of known space as a convenient way of referring to geography, much the same way that on earth we tend to all use Mercator projections and the Julian calendar, no matter what culture or nation you're from.  This sector is a kind of frontier sector, which the great powers see as ripe for further colonization and exploitation, as well as an outlet for aggression against each other that is unlikely to lead to a greater hot war (although they may yet find that this paradigm is not true.)  This sector is called the New Alderamin sector, named for the star Alderamin in the Cepheus constellation.  As I've said before, the tone of this sector should resemble a space-faring "Scramble for Africa" in most respects (or perhaps the scramble by European powers to settle and colonize the Americas a few centuries earlier); Great Powers (and Lesser Powers) all rushing to claim and colonize a frontier region, establish priority to trade routes, exploit native resources, etc. before their rivals can do the same.  Many worlds will be relatively lightly settled in terms of population, because it's only been a few centuries since settlers first arrived on them.  Other worlds had native populations that either had to be coexisted with or pacified.

That said, even the Great Powers have ancient history in the area; subsequent Dark Ages have had them lose much of their former heritage, and some of the attention is attributed to trying to rediscover sites that were culturally, archaeologically, religiously, economically, strategically or politically important in the days of the semi-legendary Marian Empire or even earlier—like 19th century British or Prussian or French archaeologists discovering the ruins of Troy, or finding sites related to the Romans, or the tomb of an Egyptian Pharoah.  It's not totally the discovery of new frontiers; it's also the re-discovery of their ancient heritage, to some degree.

The subsectors don't have names (contrary to Traveller conventions) just numerals.  There are four rows horizontal, labeled with a Roman numeral, and four columns each labeled with an Arabic numeral.  The top left subsector is labeled I-1, therefore, while the bottom right subsector is IV-4.  The following grid illustrates the layout.

















I imagine that the both the Monarchy and the Republic are mostly located to the "north" of this sector; the Monarchy more to the West and the Republic more to the East.  The Monarchy's "southern" frontier will therefore be seen at very tops of I-1 and I-2 and the Republics on the top of I-4, mostly.  The Empire, on the other hand, is to the East and much of the eastern portions of II-4, III-4 and IV-4 are actually it's western Marches.  The Outremer Imperial group is, as the name suggests, separated geographically from the actual Empire, and is located in near the upper right hand corner of IV-1 and a few surrounding parsecs of the neighboring subsectors.

Those are the Great Powers, but the Dhangeti Cartel is located almost entirely within this sector (probably centered around II-3) and a significant chunk of the Cilindan Arm is within this sector too, especially in II-1 and II-2.  All of the other sector "regional" powers will have to be developed later as part of the star mapping process.  So, of the planets I've already created, the following will go in the the subsectors as noted.

This gives me a very high level gross geography to start working with.  The bolded and color-coded labels make it a little easier to spot at a glance.
  • Capital Publius—not in sector; located to the galactic north of I-4 at least several subsectors away.
  • Oerken—IV-2
  • Dimidium (Prime and Secundus)—not in sector, located due north of I-2 almost an entire sector.
  • Phobetor—II-2
  • Yuggoth—II-3, but very close to the bottom left corner.
  • Cilindare—II-1
  • Tars Dhangeta (and Bruttium)—II-3, not too far from Yuggoth.
  • Thanatos—IV-1
  • Phovos Mal—not in sector, would be located to the east of III-4 at least a good sector away.
With that done, now I can get to work on the real task of mapping the sector!


To complete my translation of STAR WARS REMIXED into an ersatz Star Wars, AD ASTRA, I first needed to "translate" the Star Wars planets that I talked about, where I advanced the timeline for them a good 1,000 years and talked about what they would look like in this advanced timeline "remixed" version of Star Wars.  There's two levels of "translation" here from the Star Wars prototype, therefore—first, advancing them 1,000 years into the future from where they were during the time of the movies, and then secondly translating them from Star Wars to AD ASTRA, which although similar, is not the exact same kind of space opera setting, after all.  To be honest, the first change is usually a bigger one than the second, but it depends on the planetary prototype.  Dathomir to Phobetor and Mandalore to Cilindare changed more in the second half (although, to be fair, I'm not sure if we know too much about what Mandalore was like after it appeared in The Clone Wars anyway.)  Tatooine to Oerken, on the other hand, changed much more in the first part of that translation.  This isn't necessarily a process; each planet evolves from its prototype into something else that's either more or less similar to what it was in Star Wars.  But I only did that for about a dozen planets or so.  (11 is the exact number, but there are 9 systems; two of them have two planets each.)  On top of that, some of these planets won't actually appear in my sector map for my frontier sector.  Capital Publius, the two Dimidium worlds, and Phovos Mal—four of the eleven—which are the capital worlds of three of the Great Powers, are not going to be located in this sector.  That means that I've really only come up with seven worlds that I have a reasonable chance of actually using.  Given that I will end up generating somewhere between 350 and 450 or so for the entire sector (probably in even less detail than I've done here, for at least some of them) you'll see that the material that came as from a specific Star Wars prototype is actually going to be rather miniscule in most respects.  The vast majority of setting material for AD ASTRA will have to be original—or at least not specifically based on a Star Wars prototype.  (Keep in mind, that most of those Star Wars prototypes are not really original either.  The extent to which Tatooine resembles Arrakis from Dune—and deliberately so—is pretty obvious, to make one easy example.)  Much of it is going to be randomly generated, using my system which is a simplified and less jargony version of the old Traveller star system generation method; and then, once I've generated the rough stuff, I figure out how in the world it actually makes sense (a tiny airless asteroid that is super-populated with billions of people?, etc.)

But that's going forward.  Let's finish the very last of the planets that are actually based on a STAR WARS REMIXED prototype first, shall we?  Phovos Mal is not going to feature in this region, and I didn't really write very much about it anyway; just the following small paragraph, so I think I'll skip it entirely.
The capital of the Empire is the ancient capital of Phovos Mal. In general, Phovos Mal can be seen as a darker and much more militarized mirror of  Capital Publius. The Emperor himself maintains a strict policy of secrecy—nobody sees his face, or knows his name, and only the Council of Arch-Heretics communicate with him directly.  The entire planet has the feel of a mobilized military base with attached hangers-on, and the fear of secret police runs rife through the populace.
That means, of course, that the last planet I need to do before I can turn to actually mapping this stuff out, is Thanatos.  I actually think I'm going to evolve this a bit from where I had it, where it was little more than a archaeological site with a few smuggler and cult havens, into something a little bit more substantial that will be more like Leigh Brackett's Mars with some Lovecraftiana and the medieval Crusader states mixed in, but let's start with what I wrote the first time around.

The palace of Kar Tanus VII
While an important planet to the Shadow Knights for historical, archaeological and cultural reasons, in reality there is little on the planet to tempt the Seraean cult today, and they maintain it more as a curiosity than for any other reason. Many Shadow knights make pilgrimages to the planet as part of their training, but few remain.  The ruins that once dominated the Valley of the Alien Kings are mostly stripped clean of any artifacts of interest or note, and many of the ruins toppled or defaced. 
The Seraean tolerate a few unusual features about Thanatos, however.  Several pirate and smuggler operations are here, known to the Empire, but not molested.  The inhabitants of these enclaves are particularly vicious and paranoid, as might be expected, since few of them know of the official tolerance for their activity, and they feel that they may be rooted out by feared Shadow Knights and their black-garbed troopers at any time if discovered.  In truth, it's not clear what the Empire tolerates them for, although it may be as simple as the fact that the harshly competitive meritocracy of this environment has been a good source of potential recruits for them; psionically gifted pirates are trained as apprentice Knights, and those who are not become highly skilled agents-provocateurs, often drafted into dangerous yet important missions on behalf of the Empire.  
The Seraeans also tolerate several villages of Old Ones on Thanatos, including some of the most important and centralized points of the cult.  While the Shadow Knight cult and the Old Ones cult have usually enjoyed friendly relations, it is not clear why this particular tolerance is allowed on what is a site important to the Shadow cult's heritage.  It is observable, however, that the Old Ones cult on Thanatos has gradually migrated more and more into being one that resembles the ancient Shadow cult itself.  It is believed by a very few who are aware of this phenomena that this tolerance may actually be part of a long-term conspiracy to draw the Old Ones cult directly into the Shadow cult itself and merge the two.  The whispering of the Alien Kings and the ghosts—rather real or imagined—of past Shadow Lords who still wander the blasted badlands of Thanatos may be instrumental in bringing this to pass.
System: Thanatos
Hex Location: 0733
Star Type: Double star (distant), G4 V, M8 V
Number of Worlds: 12 (7/5)
Gas Giants: 7 (4/3)
Planetoid Belt: Comet belt and asteroid belt (2 each)

Starport Type: A
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 20% ("surface" being a misnomer; most of it is in the crust in shallow aquifers rather than actually on the surface itself.)
Population: Medium (800 million)
Political Affiliation: Seraean Empire, Shadow Knights
Notes: Thanatos is the capital of the Outremer region—occasionally known more formally as the Civitas Ordenis Umraci.  Established as conquests by Shadow Knight Lords, they are semi-independent of the Seraean Empire; Shadow Knight Lords who desired greater autonomy and freedom, and went crusading to liberate and pacify regions that were formerly important to their Order for religious or political reasons, but which had fallen from control of the Empire prior to even the Slave Wars ghastly resolution.  I say capital, but the reality is that the Outremer region is only loosely confederated, and the various Lords who rule their fiefdoms are somewhat fractious and unruly.  Rather, Thanatos claims to be the capital, and it is probably the most important.  Lord Kar Tanus VII is the most important figure in the Outremer systems, but his actual rule is limited to the Thanatos system itself.

In theory, of course, Kar Tanus is a vassal of the Empire, but in pragmatic day to day terms, he's so far from Phovos Mal, and its influence is weak enough, that he operates independently for all practical purposes, and only invokes his role as the local voice of the Emperor and the Council of Arch-heretics when it suits his purposes, otherwise ruling in his own name and for his own reasons.

Ancient ruins near the palace.
The system is a double star, but the companion star, a faint red dwarf, is distant enough to almost effectively be a separate system; it is about as far from the main yellow star as Sedna is from our own sun, and provides little light and no appreciable heat to the inner planets like the main world.  Most of the rest of the planets are thoroughly uninhabited and uninhabitable, but small settlements on a somewhat Earth-like planet of the companion star have sprouted up in very recent years, and asteroid and comet mining takes place here as well.

Thanatos itself is a cold, red desert—a world that formerly had more warmth and water, but which gradually seems to have lost some of it over time to forces that are mysterious.  It is also the supposed home and point of origin of the Shadow Knights cult, which predates the Seraean Empire to which they are now strongly attached.  In spite of this, the natives do not seem to be Seraean in ethnicity in any fashion whatsoever, although they are xenohuman.  Bronze-skinned and yellow-eyed, with a dusky khaki or olive colored hair, they live in both Bedouin-like nomadic groups, as well as in ancient, moldering Lowlands cities of decadent, ancient civilizations that are long past their prime.  Two groups of off-worlders have established modern cities, and effectively rule the planet, ignoring (for the most part) the natives except when employing them as either mercenaries or lower class laborers.  These off-worlders are the Shadow Knights and their associated Seraean soldiers and settlers and colonists, and the second group are Old One cults, which maintain a feudal vassalage political relationship with Kar Tanus.

Because Outremer is still a region being pacified, and crusaders pass through frequently, many people coming to Thanatos on the way to somewhere else never actually land on the planet at all.  All of the services offered at a type A starport are actually offered in a vast orbital location that floats in space above the planet, built on a small asteroid dragged into position by an ancient warlock and "gravitized" to offer Earth-like gravity in spite of its tiny size (on world, the starports, depending on the city in which you put down, never reach above class B at best.)

The starport in space above Thanatos.
Semi-legendary history of the Order suggests that when it was founded, it was because of a weakness in the membrane of observed reality, and the ability of the bulk to be breached more easily here than elsewhere.  This has led to a number of bulk entities occasionally having been reputed to have come to our reality here, daemons in reality, since they are so alien and hostile to life in the observed universe that they really can't be called anything else.  Some are reputed to still be imprisoned somewhere deep underground, or in abandoned ruins deep in the desert.  Many also claim that subversive and disturbing whispers can be heard at potentially any point on the surface, but others claim that those who say this are merely superstitious and subject to suggestion and paranoia.  Either way, Thanatos is a violent world, in part because of the relatively light hand of Kar Tanus, his whim in prosecuting whatever harsh justice he feels is required, often without giving notice, and in part because for whatever reason, the inhabitants seem to be somewhat more susceptible to falling into violent psychosis and other madness after staying here too long.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tars Dhangeta

This slimy swamp is the home world to the Dhangeti.  They keep it as a kind of preserve, though, and have strict immigration controls.  Much of the planet remains in a state of greenish-yellow swamp, overcast and undeveloped.  A few cities still dot the landscape and it remains the capital of the Dhangetan Cartels.  
However, following the fall of the Dhangeti—albeit not for long—to a former Shadow Knight Kar Tanus, the Dhangeti have diversified to protect themselves.  While many Dhangeti warlords maintain palaces on Tars Dhangeta, few stay there permanently, and many have spread throughout much of Dhangeti space, to make the Dhangetan Cartel as a whole less vulnerable to potential attack.  The Dhangeti, when on Tars Dhangeta, maintain a strong presence of mercenary bodyguards and militia, including—if they can get them—Cilindan supercommandos and fallen or independent knights. 
Tars Dhangeta landscape
Other than in the heavily armed warlord palaces, however, Tars Dhangeta remains a relatively lawless place, with little in the way of government oversight.  Because of this, it prospers, but gangsters and organized crime remain a significant deterrent to ever truly expanding its trade and commerce base beyond items that are otherwise illicit or illegal throughout much of the galaxy.  Slave trading cartels, spice trading cartels and more make up much of Tars Dhangeta's import/export business.
Tars Bruttium remains much as it ever was; a kind of Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, Bangkok and Tortuga of the galaxy, all rolled up into one and under the control of the Dhangeti.  Tars Bruttium is a hotbed of political intrigue.  While it's in Dhangeti Space and is loyal to that polity, it plays no favorites, and the Dhangeti's famous general trend of neutrality between the three superpowers means that embassies and espionage from all three are commonplace in the dark streets of Tars Bruttium.  It still has the same reputation as a wildly dangerous place that it’s always had, but now one with a particular partisan bent, as shadow wars rage in the streets between proxies.  All parties are careful to keep this activity at least marginally discrete, however, as the Dhangeti are only laid-back hosts to the degree that their own interests are not threatened. 
System: Tars Dhangeta
Hex Location: 2119
Star Type: Single star, G7 V
Number of Worlds: 6
Gas Giants: 4
Planetoid Belt: Comet belt

Tars Dhangeta
Starport Type: B
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Hazardous.  Earth-like, but with thick upper atmosphere clouds of sulferic acid that occasionally rains down on the surface
Surface Water: 60%, although usually quite shallow
Population: Large (3.4 billion)
Political Affiliation: Dhangeti Cartel
Notes: Tars Dhangeti and Tars Bruttium are both Earth-sized moons of a terrestrial zone gas giant, which looms overhead in the sky of both planets.  Tars Dhangeti is the most important world of the Dhangeti Cartel, although it is not the original world of the Dhangeti.  The Dhangeti are a large, alien species.  They were originally a form of hulk, from a high gravity world, but few of them have lived on high gravity worlds now for many generations, so their robust morphological features have largely gone to seed and turned to genetic obesity.  To humans from earth, they are sometimes described as fat, furry frogs with wide, toothy maws, four spider-like eyes and limbs that split into two paws halfway down their length.  But even in their strongholds, the Dhangeti are themselves relatively rare.  They reproduce asexually, usually by some form of budding, but they often eat their own larval offspring, and generally fear competition from the rising generations.

Tars Dhangeti is covered with thick upper atmospheric clouds of sulfuric acid vapor.  Luckily, the clouds tend to stay in the upper atmosphere, but for the unprepared the rare sulfuric acid rainstorm can be extremely dangerous.  Most native life-forms are sufficiently immune to its effects that it doesn't overly hurt them, but off-worlders usually wear protective suits of some kind, or stay indoors.

The surface of the planet is treated rather casually by the Dhangetans.  Large areas of relatively low-lying marshland, overgrown with trees, vines, and other plants, and teeming with nearly dinosaur-sized reptilian life-forms that are a hazard to all, is dotted in many places with wreckage and ruins of one industrial or agricultural project or another that's been attempted over the years and then abandoned.  Haphazardly built and maintained cities dot the landscape, each with its capo or warlord, jockeying for power.  The real nature of Tars Dhangeti is a place to get stuff that is difficult, or even highly illegal elsewhere: drugs, smuggled arms, mercenaries, slaves—you name it, the Dhangeti probably deal in it and this is the system in which to get it.

Tars Dhangeta swampies
There are few laws, and the only "law" that really matters the most is "don't mess with the Dhangeti warlords or their favored proxies."  Murder happening in the streets: not a big deal.  Slave trading openly: nobody cares.  Walking around with pirated Imperial military tech: well, everyone will give you a wary eye.  If someone else has a problem with what you're doing and interferes; again—nobody official will say anything to you.  Tars Dhangeta is a place for the strong, who can intimidate those who would bother them into leaving them alone, or at least if you're not sufficiently strong, it's best to make strong friends quickly.

Swamp-lizard riding escaped slaves, runaway debtors, or anyone who's otherwise hiding from anything resembling civilized society live in the swamps.  Even these are tolerated, although they often interfere more with the Dhangeti, so are more likely to be hunted down and made examples of.

Tars Bruttium
Starport Type: A
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 35%
Population: Super-populated (25 billion)
Political Affiliation: Dhangeti Cartel
Notes: Similar in culture to Tars Dhangeti, the other moon, Tars Bruttium, which orbits closer to the gas giant (so that it looms in the sky even larger) has become super-populated, whereas Tars Dhangeti remains somewhat lightly so.  Whatever native life-forms may have once lived here, they are almost certainly either extinct, or adapted to the urban life by necessity; there is little or no habitat here that isn't artificial.  If Tars Bruttium is the Las Vegas of known space, that doesn't mean that the whole planet is the Strip, though—much of it is in fact abandoned and feral, although who knows what has moved in and occupied the crumbling ruins can be anyone's guess, and travelers who wander into these regions often never return.

Tars Bruttium at night
Tars Bruttium is also a hotbed of political intrigue.  Embassies from all of the other Great Powers are entertained, yet the lawless nature of the system means that they often engage in extremely shady maneuvering.  As long as they don't bring open warfare or economic harm to the Dhangeti, this is more or less tolerated.