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.

Starflight

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.

 

 

Beyond '77