Friday, April 28, 2017


System: Jhantor
Hex Location: 2028
Star Type: Double K6 V, G1 V (close)
Number of Worlds: 13
Gas Giants: 8 (1 Hot Jupiter)
Planetoid Belt: Comet and Asteroid belt

Starport Type: A
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 40%
Population: Super-populated (35 billion)
Political Affiliation: Bern Monarchy, Carrick Grand Marches
Notes: Jhantor was once a thriving civilization of its own that eventually threw in its lot with the Grand Duke and the Monarchy overall.  It was a rather populous (a few billion) world settled many generations ago by Altairans, but it was used as a dumping ground by the Marian Empire of a number of Jaffan and Psarian criminals and political dissidents.  Even later, many generations ago still, Cilindareans and other descendants of Earth-humans moved in, and are now the majority population.  Numerous aliens also have settled here.  And all of this was before the Bernese appeared in the area, and the Jhantorians agreed to be peacefully annexed to the Carrick Grand Marches.

Jhantor, therefore, is much more cosmopolitan, much more developed, and much more established, with its own long-lived regional culture, than most other worlds in the Carrick colony. It entered the colony peacefully as an already established civilization, where one would expect it to have remained merely an allied world at best.  In some ways, this contributes to the economic prosperity of Carrick overall.  The Jhantor system is famous for its export of refined fuel, diamonds mined in the carbon-rich asteroid belt, its financial district, and other service industries.

Jhantor is also an ecumenopolis; i.e., the entire world is one huge city.  However, that doesn't mean that there aren't fairly sizable parks, preserves, and areas that have gone feral and been largely abandoned to the elements to reclaim.  Like many cosmopolitan ecumenopoli, animals that were either brought for experimentation, for past zoological gardens, or for pets or livestock, have gone feral and roam much of the less well patrolled parts of the planet.

Jhantor is also famous for its spires, that rise literally miles above the surface of the planet, and extend out beyond the atmosphere, into space.  It's also infamous for corruption, which is probably inevitable with a population this large.  It's not exactly a Tars Bruttium-level  Space Sin City, but it's got it's own reputation as a place with plenty of organized crime, decadent pleasures, and more.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


System: Eliane
Hex Location: 1928
Star Type: Single K8 Ia
Number of Worlds: 11
Gas Giants: 3
Planetoid Belt: None

Starport Type: E
World Size: Larger than Earth
Atmosphere Type: Dangerous—immediate but not life-threatening.  Without a filter, sickness which imposes -4 on all d20 rolls.
Surface Water: 30%
Population: Medium sized (110 million)
Political Affiliation: Bern Monarchy, Carrick Grand Marches
Notes: There are remarkably few worlds in known space that occupy systems with stars as odd as a red supergiant; in fact, it's generally believed that such is statistically almost impossible to exist; the forces that cause a massive, old star to swell to red supergiant status like Antares of Betelgeuse would also cause it to sweep away with solar winds, or swallow whole any planets in a habitable zone.  And yet, here were have Eliane, and planet bathed in harsh but surprisingly not terribly hot light from a massive red supergiant that fills much of the sky.

However, there are some aspects of Eliane that seem weird.  While it is a large world; much more comfortable for hulks than for regulars, with an atmosphere that won't kill you exactly, but which is slowly poisonous and requires a filter or other breath mask at a minimum.  Because of the blazing sun and its UV radiation, most life lives in deep chasms, both native (non-sentient) and colonial.  Many colonial building have been "gravved" by warlocks to counter the effects of the heavy gravity so that normal people can live here comfortably, but this is also a world where hulks are often more comfortable, and much of the population, curiously, is made up of emancipated robots rather than biological colonists.  Emancipated robots are often unusual in nature and personality, and many of them are recruited by the unscrupulous, who take advantage of their relative social inexperience and artificial autism-like behaviors, to engage in various shady activities.

Water is somewhat scarce on Eliane; mostly concentrated in polar ice caps and glaciers deep in the bottom of craters and canyons that receive little or even no sunlight, but which steam as the temperature rises.  Tidal effects from the massive gravitational pull of Eliane's supergiant sun also warps and distorts the planet, causing an abnormally high level of volcanic activity.  Mostly this is less explosive, and manifests as lava lakes, rivers and other features usually associated with water, but huge shield volcanoes and the occasional pyroclastic blast are a hazard that needs to be accounted for by the colonials.  In spite of this, there are very solid tectonic cratons that seem very stable, and even have fossils millions of years old that appear to resemble the remains—both biological and architectural—of the Greys.  This has led scientists to speculate that possibly Eliane's current position—either it's distance from the sun, or it's presence in this system at all—is artificial, although what could cause an entire planet to migrate is unknown, and no ruins anywhere on the planet can be interpreted to give any clue to answer that riddle.

Eliane is also famous for having a gigantic, ancient crater, as big as a continent, that is a scar from some massive ancient impact that nearly destroyed it altogether.  This leads scientists to also believe that life on the planet is not native, and must have been artificially seeded at some point in the distant past.


System: Tethys
Hex Location: 2128
Star Type: Double A1 V, G9 V (close)
Number of Worlds: 11
Gas Giants: 3
Planetoid Belt: Asteroid and comet belt

Starport Type: C
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 90%
Population: Large (2 billion)
Political Affiliation: Bern Monarchy, Carrick Grand Marches
Notes: The first colonized world in the Carrick is Tethys, an extremely watery world (although the seas are often shallow; less than a thousand feet deep over vast expanses) with no native inhabitants.  While there was plenty of marine life native to the world, it's also become a vast farm world in many ways for giant mats of floating plankton, edible seaweed, and fish of various origins, many imported from off-world.

There's also a fair bit of industry; the vast reserves of water as cooling and a solution for chemicals, etc. is important. The water itself can be converted fairly easily into refined fuel, which is available at multiple locations across the planet, and which is actually a major export. Overall, this tends to be a prosperous and peaceful world.  This of course brings with it demand for more services.  A Dhangetan is rumored to operate a crime ring from a "palace" somewhere in a deeper part of the sea.  Smuggling of banned substances, spice, weapons, and even slave labor is not unknown.

Cetians make up a large portion of the settlers here, which makes sense, but there are a lot of humans too, who live in "sea stacks"—skyscraper-like buildings that actually only rise a few stories above the surface in most cases, but which stretch downwards to anchor on the sea floor.  Floating ship cities that can migrate across the surface are also common, although "city" might be overstating it, as even the biggest of these rarely hold more than a couple tens of thousands of people at max capacity.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lyrae VI

System: Lyrae VI
Hex Location: 2027
Star Type: Single M9 V
Number of Worlds: 10
Gas Giants: 1
Planetoid Belt: None

Starport Type: A
World Size: Earth-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 50%
Population: Tiny outpost 95,000
Political Affiliation: Bern Monarchy, Carrick Grand Marches
Notes: Sometimes we get interested results with random system generation; an A type starport with only a tiny population?  This is clearly a special situation, and I decided to make it Grand Duke Ander Gadriar's palace world.  While the "permanent" population is under 100,000, there could (and often are) upward of 200% of that population in terms of "temporary" population; visitors, soldiers, etc.

The Ducal Palace
A fairly large (although mostly only populated by robots) orbital space station maintains a planet-wide shield and strict control of who comes on or off of Lyrae VI.  There's often a relatively long "waiting room" in orbital of ships that are being vetted for passage—a process that can take hours for smaller ships, but can take weeks for larger ships with larger crew.  The Grand Duke knows that he has many enemies and takes his security very seriously.  Because he's fairly popular locally in his Grand Duchy, it's not hard to recruit Bernese citizens to maintain his palace world too.

The surface of the planet is itself quite Earth-like in most respects; there's less surface water, so there are, in general, larger and more frequent deserts, but there's plenty of everything else, and the small number of inhabitants usually spend their time in areas that are both temperate and filled with beautiful, garden-like dramatic scenery.

More of the palace complex
There are no natives, but a few people do not live in the palace complex itself; either by self-imposed exile, or because they are game rangers, or have other reasons for wandering farther afield, but they are very rare.  The interesting thing about this is, however, that there are a few political prisoners located deep in the hinterlands.  There are only a few of these, but they range from insurgents and revolutionaries that fought for independence or anarchy from the Bernese colonial government, Revanchist and Imperial spies, Dhangetan criminal overlords, and more.  Most of these prisoners are too valuable to be executed or remanded to standard prison or gaol—they know too much about something which makes holding them risky, but doing anything else is even more risky.

Prisoner transfer far from the palace

New Vesta

System: New Vesta
Hex Location: 2127
Star Type: Double A5 V, O1 V (distant)
Number of Worlds: 14 (7/7)
Gas Giants: 3/1
Planetoid Belt: Kuiper belt

Starport Type: E
World Size: Moon-sized
Atmosphere Type: Earth-like
Surface Water: 10%
Population: Small settlements (600,000 people)
Political Affiliation: Bern Monarchy, Carrick Grand Marches
Notes: New Vesta is mostly a rural farm world.  Having no original native inhabitants of intelligence it's been rather extensively set up to provide for the needs of many in the colony; it especially feeds the many mouths of Shahar, which does not have the capability of growing much of its own food.  Infamous for being rather quiet, one can travel by road or foot or speeder for days without seeing another person; but usually seeing signs of agriculture; robot combines, well-ordered fields, orchards and grazing areas, etc.  Water is brought largely from off-world; low orbit captured centaurs or comets made primarily of ice is the primary vector on what is otherwise an arid surface.

Resting farm equipment in the prairies of New Vesta
There are also a fair number of independent, isolationist, introverted type farmers who have independent, self-sufficient family farms.  These salt-of-the-earth types are the stereotype for New Vesta, but there are at least as many folks who work for either corporate or government sponsored farms, or even work the lands owned directly by the Grand Duke.

While a good 60% or so of the surface is tamed and farmed; the other 40% or so is truly wild, and there are many dangerous predators and prey animals both.  The Grand Duke sometimes brings his more adventurous guests on safari here, where they face incredibly dangerous wildlife that lives in the areas that are not settled.


System: Shahar
Hex Location: 2026
Star Type: Single B4 V
Number of Worlds: 6
Gas Giants: 4 (Hot Jupiter)
Planetoid Belt: Kuiper and asteroid belt

Starport Type: D
World Size: Moon-sized
Atmosphere Type: Thin
Surface Water: 20% (mostly ice)
Population: Super-populated (15 billion)
Political Affiliation: Bern Monarchy, Carrick Grand Marches
Notes: In spite of it's relatively spartan amenities, this is an incredibly thickly populated world.  Centaur-like natives (see cover of Burroughs' The Moon Maid, especially the Frazetta one) are common and give the system its name, but the real wealth of the system is in the precious metals mines, which are incredibly productive compared to what most rocky inner planets are able to offer.  The high population is partly due to this gold and silver rush, which has engulfed the planet and caused a lot of conflict between original settlers, natives and newcomers—many of whom are not Bernese citizens.
Small colonial town at night
The planetary governor, Sholy Henders has been forced to put strict controls on settlement and building, so most that wander the surface do so in the equivalent of tents.  This is to protect both the colonial towns and cities and the natives.  Vast teeming numbers of people and aliens live in temporary mobile orbital stations, often made from salvaged colonial arks or other decommissioned large ships that could be quickly adapted into a space station, and ships come and go at a furious pace.

Services are growing quickly for space travel as well; although most travelers merely skim the gas giants for unrefined fuel and get their ships fitted and maintained elsewhere in the Carrick colonial holdings.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Races so far mentioned for Ad Astra

I've mentioned a lot of races in space here and there (although to be fair, at least half of them are xenohumans—humans that are native to some world other than Earth, and therefore belong to completely different and often wildly exotic ethnicities.)  To prevent it from getting too far away from me, let's see if I can't list what I've got so far, with a brief description.

I'm a little hesitant to suggest mechanical implications for these races, given the fun a la carte race builder (plus, some of these races wouldn't even be balanced mechanically with the others) but some of them do come from the chargen rules, where I give them as samples of what can be built.  Those aren't meant to be necessarily mandatory, though—if you wanted to build a character as a regular earth human in terms of racial stats, but then call him an Altairan and say that he has the blue skin and culture of an Altairan, then knock yourself out.
  • Altairans—the first xenohuman race discovered by Earth humans in their initial expansions, in the days of the Old Kingdoms.  Today, they are present throughout much of known space.  Known for blue skin (of varying hue), and are famous for their academies and supposed studious and scholarly nature—although anyone who knows very many of them knows that this isn't necessarily nearly as ubiquitous as stereotypes make it out to be.  I see them as imitation Kree, except without the superpowers.
  • Arcturans—one of the largest and most physically imposing of aliens that are not hulks; their homeworld is a regular gravity world, but they are very robustly built and muscular, and see themselves as the equal physically to any hulks.  They are furry, with long spines forming a mane around their head and down their neck, and have no visible noses, craggy brows and lantern jaws.
  • Carinan hulks—very large, 8-9 foot tall human-looking hulks, who may in fact be humans who came from Earth and adapted to heavy gravity worlds many generations ago either before or very early in the Marian Empire years.  Ersatz ogryns.
  • Cepheids—widespread reptile people allied with the Monarchy.  Think Reptile from Mortal Kombat X.  They are often very disconcertingly still and slow compared to humans, but when they decide to move quickly, they move like lightning.
  • Cetians—Amphibious silver-scaled fish-people, with small fin-like appendages on their faces.  Think of some crazy scary deep sea fish like a viperfish made humanoid.
  • Chimps—actual earth chimpanzees who through genetic modification have developed human-like bipedality, intelligence and language.
  • Cilindareans—an ethnicity that crystalized after the founding of the Marian Empire, although it was probably mostly based on an earth standard.  These are very traditionally Nordic looking; blond or ruddy hair, blue or green eyes, pale skin, etc.
  • Death Sages—a technically extinct race that yet manages to persist as a combination of necromantically and robotically preserved individuals, who act as warlords and masterminds.
  • Dhangetans—what happens to a very alien type of hulk when they spend many, many generations living off of heavy g worlds.  Covered in short, spine-like fur, with wide toothy maws, sleepy eyes, and both arms and legs that split into two hands/feet at the elbow/knee.  They breed by budding, and are relatively rare, although politically powerful.
  • Earth humans—just what they sound like; people who came from earth and established the seed population for the Old Kingdoms and later the Marian Empire (and today, make up the majority of the Bern Monarchy, the Cilindarean Arm, and a significant plurality of the Revanchist Republic, as well as spread to many other systems and states.)  They left earth during a time of diaspora when political and other conflict was extremely high, so they come primarily only from the nations that were capable of developing space travel; the northern Europeans and the northern European diaspora nations like Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, etc.  Later joined by some few Russians, Japanese and Chinese.  Many of these people have since diversified via isolation and subsequent ethnogenesis, but peoples who's genetic descent is primarily from Earth still appear like Americans without all the minorities that flooded our country during the late 1800 and early 1900s immigration and the later post 1965 invasion of Third Worlders—those dysfunctional cultures are exactly who the original settlers were trying to get away from.
  • Gors—see chimps.  The same was done to gorillas.
  • Grays—small, slender aliens with big black eyes, no hair and flat, noseless faces.  Sometimes called Zeta Reticulans, although that's an old nickname that has little to do with their actual origin.
  • Idacharians—allies of the Seraeans; pale, chalky skinned humans with dark hair and solid black eyes like a sharks.  Most Idacharians are associated with the Old One cults and it's believed that Phobetor is their native planet.  Idacharians who are not part of the Old One cult are more widely spread, and often hunted by their fellows as traitors and apostates.
  • Jaffans—sometimes called derisively "rainbows" they make an important plurality in the Republic in particular.  With often pale skin, dark brown eyes, and strange, multicolored hair that is very bright and colorful compared to earth natural—blue, lavender, green, purple, etc.
  • Janissaries—the descendants of actual janissaries—slave soldiers of the Marian Empire—who won their freedom after the vicious Slave Wars, which contributed to the Wars of the Last Emperors and the fall of the empire overall.  They maintain the name, although they are not strictly speaking, of course, still janissaries in the normal sense.  Their original ethnic origin is mysterious (part of the reason they adopted the name janissary as an ethnonym) but they are believed to be "long-lost cousins" of the Cilindareans, and after the Slave Wars, many went and settled in Cilindarean space.  White-skinned with blue or gray eyes and dark hair, they seem to owe most of their genetic heritage to old stock Earth humans, but it's not clear exactly what crucible they went through since to emerge on the far side as the janissaries.
  • Kusans—the "space rats", although they look more like cockroaches in many ways.  Covered in stiff fur, with four spider-like eyes and spiny mandibles, these guys are only about four feet tall, and are famous for being underfoot in the slums and landfills of many a world.
  • Mattixes—the glowing "Mattix elves" or "Mattix angels" don't travel much, so few have seen one, but their ethereal beauty is legendary nonetheless.  They have some kind of agreement with the Anaxaster of the Cilindareans, and some believe that the Anaxaster and many of the royal lineages among the Cilindarean may have a small bit of mattix ancestry.
  • Oerkenites—mixed ancestry humans who have largely been stranded on Oerken and settled it.  Many are escaped slaves of the old Dhangetan rule of the planet, but even those who are not are mostly peasant farmers, herders, or nomads.  Oerkenites rarely leave Oerken, but they can be seen as representative of human populations that have mixed ancestry.
  • Oerks—another big, strong reptoid race.  Oerks are a localized variety of reptoid hulk who's
    origin is unknown, but which wander here and there throughout known space.
  • Orangs—see chimps and gors.  These were once orangutans.
  • Psarians—with a bright red skin, dark hair and clear blue eyes, the Psarians are a common xenohuman sight, especially on Republic worlds.  Their original homeworld is located somewhere deep in Revanchist space.
  • Reavers—furry, sharp-toothed warriors, not unlike faux Kzin (although less overtly cat-like) from a collection of worlds located in the far south-east of the sector.  Their culture is based on raiding, and they are not unlike Heroic Age Indo-Europeans in this regard.
  • Robots—there are various mechanic sentients throughout known space, although relatively few worlds are ruled by robots, and relatively few are "emancipated" as independents.  Those that do can have almost any form, size or shape, although humanoid one is by far the most common.
  • Seraeans—sometimes called "The Colorless", Seraeans don't have any melanin, but do have a chalky white pigment instead that protects them from UV radiation.  This means that they are uniformly pale, chalky white-gray—their skin, their hair, their eyes—all of it.  Like any race that's been spacefaring for any length of time, they are somewhat spread out, but the correlation between the Seraean ethnicity and the Seraean Empire is extraordinarily high.
  • Sirian reptoids—another reptoid race; this one is famous for being quite small—3-4 feet tall, with a toothy muzzle, a long tail, and a tendency to drop on all fours to run quickly.
  • Skiffers—savage humanoid aliens with mottled dermal scutes on the back, arms and legs, small horns on the forehead, and spine-like "hair"—fierce red eyes complete the picture.  They are especially common, and in fact favored in the Cartel; the symbiotic relationship between the skiffers and the Dhangetans probably dates back centuries if not millennia.
  • Syrans—naked mole rat people, described earlier in the Syra Vorte state.
  • Tearaxian hulks—red-skinned hulks, who are the only natural born cyborgs known in known space.
  • Thanatites—natives of Thanatos, who seem underwhelmed by interstellar opportunities, and are content to live their decadent lives in the crumbling cities of their ancestors and largely ignoring the Seraean settlers among them as much as they can.
  • Ubrai—green-skinned exotic xenohumans who actually have chlorophyll in their skin and hair and can practice limited photosynthesis to subsist on poor or no food for a time.
Various hues of Altairans, from deep navy blue to pale bluish white

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

Let's finish the states descriptions, and then maybe I can start up with some star system data sheets still today, if I don't run out of time.
Reaver Warrior
  1. The Altairan Ascendancy (South)—Greatly reduced and cut off from their brothers in the galactic north, this rump state is always wary of further war.  Populations swollen by refugees from the invasion and conquest that created the Outremer state have turned to revanchism, rescue of those enslaved or living on Vichy worlds in Outremer.  Although not at open war with Outremer, raids, subversion, sabotage, terrorism and more make life uneasy along the border here.  While the Northern Altairan Ascendancy issues letters of marque to prey on Outremer shipping, and cultivates the growth not only of its army, but alliances with other colonies and states in the region, in the South, the common people have boiled out in anger and resentment at Outremer and have turned to radicalism and terrorism; while their nobility is largely in denial that there's a major problem, and sees the new normal of a shrunken and divided Altairan Ascendancy as just the way things are.  This leads to a growing disconnect between the elites and the rank and file of the Ascendency, which in turn is leading to further conflict and weakness.
  2. The Reaver Worlds—This is the homeworld and later expansion area of a group of humanoid
    aliens that derive from cursorial hunters (rather than savanna dwelling omnivores, as humans are believed to have done) locally.  In spite of their human-like appearance, their wide, spreading noses, furry bodies, and sharp teeth as well as large and pointed external ears make them immediately identifiable as alien.  Some humans have called them cat-people or werewolves, but they are neither; they are an alien race that has little connection to Earth or any of the other homeworlds of xenohumans.  They are almost universally viewed as barbarians and savages by most of their neighbors, especially because they have a habit of conducting hit and run raids that leave settlements looted and their inhabitants killed or enslaved.  Their leaders deny any official involvement or knowledge, to deflect diplomatic sanctions or worse, and in this they're probably honest—it's just cultural to the Reavers, and they do it to their own settlements as well.  The Viomium Marches, the Desai Worlds, and the many smaller independent areas that surround them are their usual targets; the Empire has been on occasion, but reprisals are usually harsh and indiscriminate, making them too risky a target for most.  Think of the Reaver Worlds as something like the Comancheria in the 1850s; the only Indian tribe to roll back the white advancement, and fight the Texians and the Mexicans to a stalemate.  Eventually the US got involved after Texas was annexed, and then it was rather quickly over for the Comanches, as the full might of the US army was turned towards pacifying their depredations; but in this instance, the Reavers are trying to keep the Empire from doing that, so as to maintain their independence and way of life.
  3. The Desai Worlds—A splinter group ruled by a few Dhangetans and their armies, the curious thing about the Desai Worlds is that they are the home of a number of earthlings that are not human; they were settled long before the Marian Empire by someone doing genetic research and experimentation in eugenics on great apes.  For the most part, these are apes that have a more humanoid posture, intelligence and speaking ability, but there are a few weirder morphological variants as well.  The apes are mostly unmolested in their settlements in the wilderness, but many make up an underclass in the cities, which are otherwise very much as you'd expect from a Dhangetan world; mercenaries, smugglers, slavers, criminals, and others from the underbelly of known space society.  Relatively large numbers of the cat-like Reavers pass through here on business that isn't necessarily related to their piracy, and this is the vector by which apes spread elsewhere in known space.
  4. The Machesk Frontier—What was formerly a rather sleepy little colony has become a crossroads and staging area for people streaming into the area to fight for or against Outremer and Imperial expansion.  The Count is laughing all the way to the bank as tariff revenues have skyrocketed, but he does worry about instability in the future.  Luckily, he's surrounded by buffers of various sorts; the Calder settlements and the Takach Kingdom are more likely to face immediate Imperial aggression than he is.
  5. The Calder Settlements—Proof that Republicanism isn't terminal, this small settlement of only four systems, primarily settled by Psarians and Jaffans, with some Earth human settlement as well, has been split by the expansion of Outremer, in the same way that the Altairan Ascendancy was.  Of course, unlike the Altairans, Calder was only sparsely settled to begin with.  The worlds that remain free from the Imperial yoke have been strengthened by refugees, so that their populations are more stable and robust.  For the most part, the r-selected portions of the population, including the leadership, has fled as well; moved to quieter neighborhoods like Rhyne, or even gone back to Republic Main altogether.  What's left has been forged quickly into a more stable, efficient, lean and mean K-selected group (although lingering hand-wringers of course remain, as they always do.)  In fact, as this change has happened, rather rapidly, the inhabitants have started to question exactly what benefit belonging to the Republic has given them, as they've looked towards the Altairans or the strong Cilindareans as better and more admirable neighbors.  Although they as yet still value the resources of the Republic, when they can get them, sufficiently that secessionist movements are not strong enough to actually lead to real change.  That said, the Republic now has a wary eye on those unruly Calderans.  Between Calder and Carthen, the whole tip of their expansion into the New Alderamin sector is at risk of blowing up in their faces, although colonial administrators are still in various stages of denial about the risk.
  6. The Takach Kingdom—One nation that has stood firm against Outremer (and anyone else's) expansion and either fought or intimidated everyone into leaving them alone, are the Janissaries of Takach.  Since their days in the Slave Wars, the descendants of the Janissaries have had a reputation as a highly efficient and effective military culture, but few of them have had more occasion to actually utilize their militancy in practice than the Takach.  It's believed by some that the conquest and settlement of the Kingdom in the first place, which was highly publicized and romanticized by many, was the inspiration for Kar Tanus to go liberate Thanatos and build his small empire in the first place.  Having fought frequently against Imperials, Cilindareans, Reavers, Revanchists, and more, the Takach military is seen as one of the best small militaries in known space.
  7. The Emerus Marches—Another local leader who is highly concerned with the threat of Imperial expansion, as well as Reaver and Desai depredation, Margrave Hugh Longonz has made overtures to all of his neighbors, and done what he can to build his colonial military.  Hugh feels like he's in the calm before a storm, but he thinks he's built up the means to weather it.  The Emerus Marches has become especially self-sufficient, and is often wary of visitors, although it does tolerate a fairly steady stream of Bern officials, settlers, mercenaries or others who travel through on their way to the even more desperate Viomium Marches.
  8. The Viomium Marches—With their Margrave killed in action, the far-flung Viomium Marches are perhaps the most put-upon multi-world settlement in the sector that still manages to hold on to its independence.  Squeezed between Reavers and Imperials, the poor settlers here are hardened, untrustworthy, and ready to fight at the drop of a hat if it looks like they need to.  On the other hand, those that they do make friends with are fast friends—on such an unstable frontier, they're desperately needed.

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—this more resembles the more morally questionable Baltic Crusader States than the Levantine ones.  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
  27. The Vorgan Than Viceroyalty

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.)