The Free Worlds

A year ago, units of “Federal Peacekeepers” landed on Seton (0714 Sentinel Sector) and began to conduct systematic searches of private homes looking for “Imperial collaborators”. Hundreds of individuals, and in some cases entire families, were executed on the spot as the searchers discovered evidence for treason. The people of Seton, at first stunned at the development, picked up arms and fought back. 95% of the federal soldiers were killed in a night, and the local government overthrown. The Setons declared a counter-revolution – but instead of supporting the old Empire, they declared independence.

The Setonian revolutionary government realized that it could never stand up to Republican might alone. It quickly brought nearby worlds into the fight (most of them dependent on Seton for trade), and declared a new nation, the “Free Worlds”, to be organized as a loose confederation once liberty had successfully been defended.

While Seton itself is a regional economic power with some ship-building capacities, most of the other worlds in this alliance can not offer much more than moral support for the war of independence. Celeste (714 Sentinel Sector) barely fits the bill, with a population of 112 million.

Despite its relatively proximity to Avalon, the Free Worlds have managed to survive a year mostly due to the Republic’s over-extension. The revolutionary government is currently trying to take Johnson’s Junction (0215 Sentinel), a small tech level D vacuum world with large shipyards. Losing Johnson’s Junction would almost certainly escalate the Republic involvement, however, as it will turn the Free Worlds from a nuisance to a potential threat.

Mercenaries of all sorts can find gainful employment if they do not mind violating dozens of Republic laws to do so. The Free Worlds have little cash to spare, but will provide training, equipment, repair and ammunition for ships, and land grants on Arcadia or any other member world. Free traders will find a ready market for many essential goods, and smugglers will be able to profit from running weapons, medicine, and many other goods.

Lots of Little Sources

Here’s a collection of source material that piled up:

Huge Ring System

Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet, in the system, J1407b, which is 200 times the size of the ring system of Saturn. There are also gaps in the rings which they think indicate the presence of moons there. The Contact Light setting has got to have at least one gigantic ring system like this!

Ancient Star System

In other news, Kepler has found an ancient planetary system. The system, Kepler-444, is 11.2 billion years old. It has at least five planets – all of them too hot to support life – but it means ancient systems can exist amidst much younger stars. Planets on which civilizations rose and fell long before life even got started elsewhere.

Science Fiction Atmospheres

In 2005, Prof. Pierrehumbert wrote an essay about Science Fiction Atmospheres.

Intergalactic Winds

There are Intergalactic Winds – I’ll have to do something with them.

TL 8 ASAT Technology

I am always looking to fleshing out those TL charts, and here is an example of TL8 ASAT technology at work.


I think most of you will probably know Starflight, but on the off chance that you don’t – here’s a decent Let’s Play of that 1986 science fiction classic.

(Scott does pretty good space-based game Let’s Play videos IMO.)

Starflight has been cited as one of the biggest inspiration for Mass Effect, and you can easily see many similarities.

Why Colonize a Crappy Planet?

Since I am hosting this month’s RPGBA Blog Carnival over at Enderra, I thought I might post a little bit about colonies this month.

One of the quirks of the Traveller world generation system is that it creates populations on Earthlike and hostile worlds alike. The modifiers in the Mongoose rules somewhat mitigate this, but not much. Combined with an abundance of Earthlike worlds, the question naturally arises: “Why would anybody live on such a hell-hole?”

Low Tech Levels: Isolated cultures of Tech Level 7 or 8 (20th-21st Century) might attempt to settle a moon or a hostile or marginal world in their own system simply because it’s the only option they’ve got. If they have Grav drives or a lot of resources, they can even reach nearby star systems (very slowly), but without Hyperdrives their choices are limited.

Paid to stay: There might be excellent reasons for the colonists to stay. Alien ruins, abundant natural resources, research, or something else might make a colony on a hostile world economically viable. The colonists are mostly employees of whatever corporation or organization runs the show, and they are paid premiums to stick around.

No place else to go: The original colonists were outcasts, voluntarily or forced. All the good planets were taken, and they had to contend with what was left. The main objection to this is that new Earthlike worlds can bee easily found by traveling outside the Empire/Republic, but proximity to the core might outweigh the problems and challenges the planet poses – and may ensure that the colonists are left alone, where a more desirable planet could be a target for a takeover.

Terraforming: The colonists could be a terraforming crew. The planet is a mess right now, but give it two hundred years and it’ll be a man-made paradise. By signing up for terraforming duty, the colonists and their heirs are guaranteed choice land parcels and a better life.

It’s Not That Bad: A world that is extremely hostile to us – say, Venus – might be easy to colonize at very high technologies. A super-earth with a high gravity isn’t that daunting if you can just stick grav plates into your colony – you get the idea.

Modified Humans and Aliens: Some alien species will find a “hostile” world to be quite to their liking. The Traveller world generation makes no assumption about the species of inhabitants, and in a space opera-ish setting like Contact Light, the locals could actually be non-humans. A variation of this is the concept that we might genetically modify some colonists to thrive in an environment that humans would otherwise find unpleasant or unbearable.

We don’t actually ever go there: The settlement is actually on a moon or space station and not the hostile planet itself. Technically, under the Traveller rules, the UWP should describe the station in this case. However, there might be excellent reasons for the locals to claim to be a planetary colony and make it stick – government subsidies, or better rights, representation in the Senate, better military protection, it all depends on interstellar law. Perhaps this requires a small colony on the surface for legal reasons, with staff well-paid and rotated out regularly (in which case it becomes Paid to Stay).

There is no spoon: The colony might not actually exist. It could be a census mistake, or a cartographic artifact. In the Contact Light universe, starships do not need to refuel with Hydrogen after every jump; in a Traveller universe this could lead to some stranded ships. A variation of this is an abandoned colony – they attempted to settle this world but failed, and the census data has not been updated.

Get With It, RNG: It’s always permissible to change the random results. Make the atmosphere a little more friendly, decrease the planet’s size, what have you – Or just make it an uninhabited world after all.



Enderran Gods

Notes on Enderran Deities as they are worshiped today:

Arandra: Goddess of agriculture, farmers, and the harvest. Agriculture has become a profession, even a science and farmers are no more or less likely to be religion than anybody else. It is still customary to leave small offerings to Arandra during spring, and she is given thanks during the Harvest festival. She is worshiped extensively on agricultural worlds and is also the patron of hydroponics workers. Her temples are modest affairs and offer practical services to farmers. Many have branched out and engage in all sorts of community services.

Aurul: God of wealth, trade, money. It’s probably not a surprise that the temples of the god of wealth and money are hugely influential. They have had ties to merchants, banks, and corporations for hundreds of years. While some temples may fall on hard times, Aurul’s clerics wield immense financial and thus political power. Aurul is a popular patron god for wealthy families and individuals. Some conspiracy theories claim that the clerics of Aurul control all of Colonial Space either directly or indirectly, manipulating markets, organizations and individuals like puppets on strings.

Baast: Goddess of strength, the hunt, wild animals, and blood. Worshipping the “Savage Goddess” has always been seen with skepticism at best, and her worshippers always lived on the fringes of sovieties or as primitive tribes in the wilderness. The Republic banned worship of Baast, but she is still venerated on primitive and frontier worlds, and by some thrillseekers and “neo-paganistic” groups.

Borell: God of winter, snow, cold, ice. There is really no place for a god of the cold in a modern, scientific society. He has no organized following, and his sole remaining role is during winter holidays, where is used as an anthropomorphic “father frost”. A popular product range of fridges is named after Borell.

Chaera: Goddess of sleep, dreams, forgetting. Chaera has become almost completely insignificant as well. It is, however, still common to offer prayers to Chaera before entering any sort of cryonic suspension – a ritualistic leftover from the times when the technology was still highly unreliable.

Cythere: Goddess of love, beauty, romance, lovers, young women, marriage. Cythere is widely worshipped. Priests of Cythere perform wedding ceremonies, including noble and imperial ones. The Church of Cythere has not taken an official “stand” against the Empire, seeing itself as not political. Due to the goddesses popularity and many social functions her clerics have not suffered under Republic rule.

Daera: Goddess of plants, forests, nature, wilderness. Daeran clerics are heavily involved in terraforming projects, and many of them are highly recognized specialists in the field. Her temples are among the first to be built on newly colonized Garden worlds. She is also the most important goddess to the Endari, who worship her almost exclusively, though this has become less of a significant factor since the Endari “betrayal”.

Dahalo: God of thieves, deception, fraud, swindlers, illusions and gambling. Dahalo has always been a “minor” god, working on the sidelines, hidden in shadows. His church has been outlawed since before the dawn of the space age, as it encourages criminal activity. Confessing worship of Dahalo is seen as a confession of unspecific crimes and results in imprisonment on many worlds. Despite his outlaw status, Dahalo has lavish temples in many red light districts and on worls where laws are less strict.

Ewelra: Goddess of misfortune and accidents. Ewelra is shunned and disliked for obvious reasons, and is not worshiped at all anymore. It is still customary to beg her for mercy so that a project or undertaking may be free from mishaps, but for regular people this has little more significant than wishing each other “good luck”. There are, however, persistent rumors that there is an underground network of “Ewelra-worshiping anarchists”, and “prayers to Ewelra” were charges brought on in many trials during the political purges of the post-war years..

Gart: God of metals, ore, mountains, iron working, earth. Gart is “the” Thurin God, and a majority of his clerics are Thurin. Temples of Gart are associated with the Thurin state and act as embassies for the Thurin people. They are usually very wealthy, as all Thurin corporations pay them a form of taxes.

Helion: God of summer, sun, fire, light. Patron deity of the Empire and the Imperial Family. Due to Helion’s central role in the Empire, the Republic quickly outlawed the old Temple of Helion, allowing loyal clerics to found the “Reformed Temple of Helion”. Any clerics and priests who did not agree to the new doctrine were imprisoned and often disappeared during the purges. The original church continues to exist outside of the Republic, effectively creating a schism.

Inanna: The Protector. Inanna wasn’t a direct member of the main Pantheon of gods, but instead transcends it. Her role is that of a protector of all creation, the entire universe and all other planes of existence. Her main antagonist is Tarjan. As she bears no responsibility that affects the actual lives of Enderrans, she hasn’t ever had any temples devoted to her. The only exception are the Paladins, who serve her exclusively.

Laesh: God of magic, psionics, knowledge, chemistry and science. Patron of many universities and other centers of learning. Influential because his priests are highly-talented in psionics.

Layra: Goddess of seduction, sexuality, passion, wine, ecstasy. Temples are most prominently found in red light districts and on “resort” worlds, but there are minor shrines in every city, frequented by young would-be suitors who seek guidance in winning over a potential lover or just want to find comfort in the arms of a Layran priestess. They are often associated with organized crimes and prostitution, though the Layran clerics take exception to that. The term “Layran whore” has become proverbial, however.

Londra: Goddess of warmth, hearth, home, families. Once a major deity, Londra has lost much of her significance. Her name is invoked during contruction of residence buildings and the foundation of new colonies.

Lowrah: Luck, cheerfulness, happiness, festivities, laughter. Lowrah has always been a minor deity, and there is no organized cult in her name.

Marus: God of water, oceans, rain, storms. Maritime traditions and rituals have involved Marus for thousands of years, and this continues to this day on any world that has oceans. His temples are, of course, more significant on water worlds, but shrines of Marus are also popular on desert worlds.

Mynion: God of art, literature, poetry, music. Back on Enderra, during the early information age, Mynion’s clerics also involved themselves with modern art, radio, televion and motion pictures. As a result Mynion was a patron deity to many members of the entertainment industry. Nowadays, Mynion is no longer worshiped but his name is often invoked by entertainers.

Mystarah: Goddess of darkness, night, moon, stars, navigation, secrets. Mystarahis seen as perhaps the most influential deity in Colonial Space, as she is the patron deity of spaceflight, astronauts and astrogators. Most spaceports have at least a small shrine of Mystarah, and her church maintains a fleet of spaceships – everything from scout ships to armed warships; the later is a sore issue with Republic officials but the clerics of Myststarah insist that they are needed for the exploration of space – which can be dangerous.

Necros: God of death, aging, the afterlife. Necros worship is strictly regulated; his clerics perform burial services, which is an important function in any society; but worship of a death deity is seen as “unwholesome” and as a practice that can easily turn a good man into a psychopath. Necros’ priests are not welcome anywhere, but nobody who has even some belief in the gods dares treat them badly.

Satar: God of illness, pain, suffering, torture, cruelty, poison. Worship was outlawed a long time ago.

Serin: God of conflict, hate, betrayal, disloyalty, jealousy. Was also outlawed a long time ago.

Shantae: Goddess of crafts, trades, architecture. In the modern society, Shantae is also the patron deity of industry, factories and factory workers. She is seen as a “goddess of the common people” and is popular in the Republic.

Syranon: The Just. God of law, justice, honor, fairness. Under the Empire, Temples of Syranon doubled as courts of justice. The Republic has established a civilian judiciary, which has incorporated and taken over many of the Temples and employs many of Syranon’s clerics – the clerics do not care for politics, but for justice, and they are okay with the changes. However, some of them have come into conflict with Republic officials because they have absolutely no reservations against ruling in favor of opponents of the governing party.

Tarjan: The Mad God; God of destruction, madness, rage. Tarjan is a destructive deity; he is consumed by a blind, raging desire to end the existence of the universe and all other planes of existence. So far, his attempts have not come to fruition, in part because his mad schemes invariably have self-destructive flaws, but also because of the efforts of Inanna, his primary foil. There are no official “temple of Tarjan”, but he does have some followers who are as mad as he is. Civilized society shuns his teachings, and in polite company even mention of the name Tarjan is taboo.

Toa: Goddess of life, birth, rejuvenation, youth, recuperation. Patron deity of medics and doctors. The Toan Oath pledges doctors and other medical professionals to preserve and save life. Clerics of Toa bless newborn children, and a child that receives no such blessing is traditionally thought to be “unlucky” or even “cursed”.

Werran: God of war. Popular with soldiers on both sides of any conflict. Almost all of Werrans clerics serve in military services, where they bless weapons and soldiers and generally act as army chaplains. There is no other organized worship of Werran; many people prayed to him during the civil war, asking for a swift end to the violence.

Enderran Religion

Back in the distant past, the Gods walked Enderra. They, and their servants and avatars, took an active role in mortal affairs and fought each other over power and prestige. There are many myths and even “historical” records that describe such events, the most recent of which dating to about 900 OR. Historians dismiss these reports as mere myths, and even theologians admit that there is absolutely no way to verify such stories one way or another. The homeworld was destroyed long ago, and there is no doubt that the Gods – if they ever existed – have completely withdrawn from the physical universe. Clerics call the current situation the “great crisis of doubt”, a test devised by the gods to determine the loyalty of the faithful.

The original Enderran religion, a polytheistic belief whose gods are collectively simply called “The Pantheon”, recognized 27 deities of various power and importance that split responsibility of different aspects of the world between them. There was a god of winter, a god of the sun, a goddess of agriculture, and so on. The temples of some deities lost much of their influence as Enderran society became more technologically advanced. Other temples gained in power. For example, Helion is the patron deity of the Empire; the power this brought to his clerics is obvious. The Republic is officially a secular state, with severe restrictions designed to keep religion and government separate.

Since there is no objective way to tell if anything like a god really exist, atheism, agnosticism and many “alternative” cults and religions have developed over the past centuries. Atheism in particular is thought to have been a new development post-exodus, and some fringe scientists cite this as the best evidence that Gods might indeed have existed once.

Beyond '77