Friday, 31 December 2010

Alien Minor Race: The Johdari

A Johdari
During a couple of days holiday out at the beach at Maraetai, I finally had a chance to play around with “Flynn’s Guide to Alien Creation” that I reviewed back here.

It is a very quick and simple system to use, and I really enjoyed playing with it. I did find that having a vague idea of the alien race you wished to create enabled you to visualise the created alien more easily. Below is the second alien race I created – the Johdari – a member species of the Outrim Alliance and the race of the character Kephar Oanneshhu, the Engineer in the Webcomic “The BurrowWolf”.

The Johdari

Johdari are a humanoid Minor Race descended from nocturnal arboreal Omnivore/Hunter stock and are native to the planet Johunshhizair/Entorth A-886883-C.

Johdari are warm-blooded, have two genders and are egg-layers. Of Medium Build, though smaller and slighter than humans, they possess bilateral symmetary; have a pair of arms ending in two-fingered hands; and a pair of legs ending in two-prehensile toed feet, each with an apposable gripping spur. They are Fast, moving at 9m, Natural Climbers with Notable Dexterity (2d6+1), and posses a prehensile tail. Built for short, quick chases, they soon tire, having a Weak Endurance (2d6-1). Razor sharp teeth (Natural Weapon – Teeth) and Low Light Vision enabled primative Johdari to dominate the jungles of Johunshhizair, traits that their star-faring descendants still posses.

Maturing at Age 18, Johdari start aging around Age 38 (5 terms) and then slowly (DM+1 to aging rolls). All Johdari benefit from their government’s advanced education system and have Notable Education (2d6+1).

Skin colour ranges from dark brown to jet black and the skin is covered with a fine, downy, fur of a similar colour.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Website Update #10

Chariot IFV from Combat Wombat Miniatures - 15mm scaleI have finally updated my modelling log and my Traveller pages on my website.

There are many Works In Progress.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

History of the RimWorlds #5 – Enter, the Imperium

Copyright Jon Lomberg and the National Air and Space MuseumThe Veil - created by the passage of a starcluster through the plane of the galaxy some 100,000 years ago, the Veil stretches up out of the plane of the galaxy, originating in the Spinward March / Trojan Reach section of published maps, and trailing up towards the open starcluster.
- Chris Harrod: MetaTraveller

The creation of the Veil by my friend Chris enabled us to sidestep the increasing clutter around the Spinward March, while still permitting us to use interesting “official” material without too much trouble. The divergence of our campaigns into the Veil was the beginning our divergence from the GDW-driven timeline of the 3rd Imperium, though the on-going campaign development jumped backwards and forwards chronologically, as well as moving from the macro metagame to the micro scenario.

Writing up the Imperial History of the RimWorlds in 2008, I began to flesh out my theories of a comitatus-style development of the RimWorlds and the character of that initial swashbuckler, Kolin Venuraski, started to emerge:

History of the RimWorlds

103 Thongaloros Empire falls to the Outrim Barbarians.

323 Ftaioiaftew/Gazul settled by Aslan of Huiha Weakhayuwikhye.

497 First Imperial presence in the Rimworlds in Kaorin and Berimar’s Sceptre subsectors.

540 Sector Duchy of the Rimworlds established with its capital on Raelmar/Thurgandarn. Kolin I Venuraeki is first Sector Duke.

The Imperial Interstellar Scout Service mapped their way up the Whisp and into the Coreward Subsectors of Kaorin and Berimar’s Sceptre in the mid-490s. The Whisp Route was, by its nature, difficult to navigate with the Tech Level 12 equipment available to the Imperium at that time. Several Rifts, with multiple, barely sustainable, Jump-3 passages across them, challenged the Scout Service Exploration Service. Eventually, massive fuel refineries orbiting sullen and isolated M-Class stars kept the route open.

Having run the Whisp, the Scouts discovered that the Coreward Subsectors of the RimWorlds, Kaorin and Berimar’s Sceptre, possessed a relatively dense population of vibrant, younger stars, perhaps remnants of the original starcluster that burst through the disc of the Milky Way some 100,000 years earlier. Unlike the barren stars of the Whisp, these stars possessed planetary systems rich in resources.

As the exploration reports filtered back to the IISS Domain Command Centre Deneb, Lord Kolin Venuraski, the young, ambitious, head of a cadet branch of the House of Deneb, caught wind of this new and, as yet, unexplored region. Deftly manoeuvering through the rocks and eddies of Domain Court politics, Lord Kolin, the younger son of Count Metch Venuraski of Fornice/Mora, succeeded in having himself appointed to head the Imperial Commission considering the Scout Service reports on the new sector.

As the Imperium was already heavily committed to the exploration and settlement of the Spinward March, the prospects of colonising a remote pocket of space, accessed via a hazardous and difficult passage, held no immediate attraction to the members of the Commission. Except for Lord Kolin Venuraski. Proposing to explore and exploit the RimWorlds for the betterment of the Imperium through the agency of a Chartered Private Equity Company, thus avoiding any direct commitment of sparse Imperial resources, Lord Kolin shamelessly exploited his position as Head of the Imperial Commission to be commissioned Viceroy of the RimWorlds Sector. The patent of Viceroy was struck in 525, 28 years after the initial scouting missions.

Venuraski had not been idle during this time. Early on, he had reached the conclusion that the Imperium or, more specifically the Domain of Deneb, with expansion in the Spinward March under way, lacked the resources to fully exploit the Rimworlds. In his capacitiy as Head of the Imperial Commission, he was able to ensure that the Scout Service purchased refinery stations for the Whisp Route that vasty exceeded the Service’s requirements. That a large percentage of the refinery construction work was farmed out to heavy engineering corporations on Fornice, or in the Mora Subsector with connections to House Venuraski, passed unnoticed at the time.

As the Imperial Commission’s deliberations dragged on, Venuraski put together a team of trusted advisors who analysied the confidential Scout Service reports and then began drawing up a colonisation plan for the RimWorlds. With this plan in hand, Lord Kolin began marshalling the resources of his immediate family and his wider House. A casual conversation at a soiree opened his eyes to the fact that there were a number of younger siblings of the Houses Major who felt that they were being excluded from the Spinward March development. Frustrated, yet in control of reasonable resources in their own names, these restless young nobles numbered talented, yet untested, members amongst their ranks.

By the time Lord Kolin became Viceroy Kolin of the RimWorlds in 525, he had a strong, multitiered organisation behind him. The moneyed timid, as well as the short-changed adventurer, had all found places in his Chartered Private Equity Company, as silent shareholders or as divisional chiefs and managers. The first colonies were already established in Thurgandarn Subsector in the Coreward RimWorlds even as the ink dried on Kolin Venuraski’s letter patent as Viceroy.

Expansion was rapid and successful, and Kolin began to dream of a Sector Duchy. And then his advancing wavefront of scouts ran into a technologically competent Pocket Empire, the Klarthur Confederacy.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

History of the RimWorlds – Design Notes

When I began constructing the subsectors that were to become the core areas of my Traveller campaign, I had no idea of their history. Later, as I learned more about GDW’s 3rd Imperium campaign setting, I envisioned my campaign area as being “just off the map” of the Spinward March. Later again, when I discovered that the Trojan Reach had overwritten “my” bit of space, I ignored the entire issue of interlinking until my friend Chris came up with the concept of the Whisp and the Veil. In the interim, for the RimWorlds I had developed a List of Sector Dukes, Subsector Duke Lists for the four Imperial Subsectors of Gamelea, Nolgor, Miazan and Gazul, and family trees of the Houses Major that held these four Subsectors.

In 2008, as I began writing up my Traveller material for my website, I worked up a History of the RimWorlds from the 1984 chronology. This, in turn, led to an expanded Imperial History of the RimWorlds. As this History grew longer and longer, I eventually broke it up into the various sections, or chapters, that it now appears in. The Imperial History of the RimWorlds drew heavily on the Sector and Subsector Ducal Lists, and as I came to consider dates and events in the chronology, and what was actually happening behind the scenes at those times, having the family trees proved a real bonus. In one place I suddenly had a cast of characters, in the relatives of the ducal encumbrants, who had their own motivations and desires and whose actions and reactions could also reverberate both forwards and backwards in time. This was all some years before I discovered T4’s Pocket Empires, but the principle was very much the same.

The current power structure in the RimWorlds dates back to the initial Imperial colonisation of the Sector by Lord Kolin Venuraski of Deneb and his Chartered Private Equity Company in the early Sixth Century of the 3rd Imperial era. This is very much based on a form of the comitatus system, similar to that used and understood by Count Belisarius in the Sixth Century AD on Terra, crossed with the merchant-adventurer company common in England in the Sixteenth Century AD. Under this system, Houses Major and Minor contributed resources to Lord Kolin’s exploration and settlement of the RimWorlds in return for resources and land (ie planets or systems). Under Lord Kolin’s leadership, the Houses Major and Minor agreed to contribute military forces for the mutual defence of the territories claimed for the Imperium and to support such Imperial Forces and agents as were assigned to the RimWorlds.

So in the RimWorlds, unique amongst Imperial Sectors, the Subsector, or Colonial, Fleets are the first line of defence and maintain law and order within the various Subsector Duchies. The nine Imperial Subsectors share between three and four Imperial Fleets amongst them, so these fleets tend to act as a strategic reserve under Sector Ducal control. RimWorlds Subsector and Sector Dukes have traditionally led their forces from the front and the chronology and family trees are filled with the premature deaths of senior figures during various battles. This becomes understandable if one is also aware that many members of the Houses Major and Minor also hold senior command positions, either within their Household forces, their Subsector forces or the Sector Command Structure.

Traditionally, most Houses Major practised patrilineal inheritance for their major titles and offices. Daughters tended to receive minor holdings and offices and were married off to secure alliances between Houses. Heiresses often found themselves in the position where they could hold command rank in the military but were somehow considered incapable of holding a political position in their own right. House Hikisaku of Gazul/Gazul was unique amongst Houses Major in that they practised primogeniture inheritance. This policy was attributed to Admiral Alleen hault-Hikisaku, Governor of the Trans-Nolgor Territories, who was confirmed as Subsector Duke Alleen I of Gazul Subsector in 593, upon the elevation of his family to House Major status. Amongst Houses Minor, patrilineal, matrilineal and primogeniture inheritance all find their supporters and adherents.

In reviewing the Imperial History of the RimWorlds document on my website, I feel disinclined to cut and paste it into this blog as this would be, I feel, lazy blogging. Instead, I will endeavour to prĂ©cis what I have already written and, perhaps, expand upon it so that readers of both sources will see a campaign’s deep background unfold and grow before them, hopefully for the betterment of my on-going game.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

History of the RimWorlds #4 – Setting the Scene for the Imperium

Aslan by the Keith brothers from GDW's Alien Module 1: Aslan - used completely without permission

Two centuries after the Fall of the Thongaloros Empire, discussed in my previous blog entry, the following event is recorded:

-143 Aslan colonise Yuwe/Lymethius.

103 Thongaloros Empire falls to the Outrim Barbarians.

323 Ftaioiaftew/Gazul settled by Aslan of Huiha Weakhayuwikhye.

Huiha Weakhayuwikhye settled at the Rimward end of the Rimworlds, four hundred years after Huiha Esoyatre and Huiha Khysokhou colonised systems in what are now Lymethius and Cabria Subsectors. While there seems to be a sense of relationship between Huiha Esoyatre and Huiha Khysokhou, with Huiha Weakhayuwikhye there is a sense of separation – the only common element is that all three Huiha are Aslan.

While current records aren’t clear – ie I haven’t done any development on the subsector Rimward of Gazul – I would assume that Huiha Weakhayuwikhye in fact ended up occupying several worlds over the Rimward border for, as we shall see, Huiha Weakhayuwikhye eventually played a fairly crucial role in the Rimward Coalition and this, in turn, implies that the Huiha had sufficient resources to successfully resist Imperial expansion.

And then finally the 3rd Imperium steps on stage in the RimWorlds.

Friday, 10 December 2010

History of the RimWorlds #3 – Vanished Empires

Image borrowed from Eli's 'I See Lead People' blog, who sourced it from DeviantArt

And then we come to this entry in the chronology:

103Thongaloros Empire falls to the Outrim Barbarians.

A single line of text that manages to say both much and nothing at the same time. “Outrim Barbarians”, by the way, was an early term used by me to describe non-Imperial peoples living beyond the Imperial frontier. This term is similar to one that appears in early GDW Library Data and which is used to refer to Zhodani and Vargr in particular. As with the GDW term, “Outrim Barbarians” has fallen out of favour as I continued to develop the RimWorlds.

By the time I was constructing my website, I had expanded the one line reference above to a Library Data entry that read as follows:

Thongaloros Empire
Stellar Empire that extended through much of the Rimworlds sector and which collapsed in 103. The dominant sophonts of the Empire was a hexepedal reptilian race called the Tsalur. Small pockets of Tsalur survive on Xcothal/Nolgor and in the Hand of Ssra'ka Aissr in Cabria Subsector. Artifacts and ruins from the Empire still turn up from time to time.

This entry actually drew together two threads of RimWorlds development.

During the initial Traveller campaign I ran, which centred on my friend John’s ex-Scout character Ezra Weinbach, I introduced the Tsalur Minor Race. The Tsalur Warriors were a hexepedal reptilian people living in caverns beneath the surface of the nearly airless planet Xcothal in Nolgor Subsector, and were actually based on a 25mm Fantasy figure I had inherited.

At about the same time, the chronology entry concerning the fall of the Thongaloros Empire was made. Shortly after that, I began to wonder about this early Empire – who were the people (probably not human as 3rd Imperium humans only showed up in the RimWorlds some 400 years after the Empire had collapsed, and any earlier human populations were refugees or sublighters, and in fairly small numbers)? How big had this empire been? Why had it collapsed? What traces had it left? Was I entirely happy with the name of the Empire (the answer to this question is ‘No’, but it is a name that Imperial researches have tried to extract from the records of a dozen different Minor Races, as well as Empire inscriptions, with no apparent surviving pronunciation guides)?

The linking of the Tsalur to the Thongaloros Empire was a bit of an inspired joke on my part. What if researchers discovered records of a vanished stellar empire? And what if different researchers discover and study a fairly primitive and aggressive Minor Race? Would they necessarily link the two together, particularly if the Tsalur Minor Race is only extant on one planet within Imperial space, and the ruins of the vanished Empire are only found on a handful of worlds along the Imperial border?

I saw no need to DGP the situation to death. Not knowing all the answers is part of the fun of being a Referee. When you come to write a scenario, the process of mapping it out, and then running players through it, serves to answer the questions for you.

In Classic Traveller, the Ancients tend to get blamed for everything, from population movements to Rosette systems. In the RimWorlds, the Thongaloros Empire did do some impressive stuff, though only using Tech Level 13 or 14 technologies – they had a pretty forthright labour policy, for example, and were not shy about shifting fairly massive population numbers about as required for various projects. They also controlled all Jump Drive technology within the Sector for a period of at least 500 years – restricting subject races to non-Jump capable ships that were carried between systems on gigantic Carriers. This explains some of the unusual population distributions within the Sector, the fact that there are fairly substantial Minor Race populations mixed together on certain worlds, and the fact that some Minor Races no longer know for certain what or where their system of origin was.

As to the fall of the Empire, the basic explanation would appear to be that a thinly spread, technologically advanced master race-society crumpled and collapsed when fresh, Jump-capable migrants moved into the Sector and refused to accept the status quo. Aslan ihatei had settled Yuwe/Lymethius some two hundred years before the fall of the Empire, and Yuwe is deep within the Sector. If the ihatei had been rewarded with land for services, it may have been deemed advisible to move them as far away from the Coreward Whisp as possible to reduce the temptation for them to side with any newcomers, especially if the Tsalur had not realised that settled Aslan will drive off incoming ihatei as a matter of course.

So, the identity of the destroyers of the Empire is still unknown – it may have been an alliance of Minor Races rising up to pull down the oppressors, it might have been newcomers coming up the Whisp from the Spinward March, it might have been a combination of the two. Suffice to say, the Tsalur survive as savage primitives on Xcothal/Nolgor and as a fairly powerful Pocket Empire in the Hand of Ssra'ka Aissr in the Cabria and Entorth Subsectors. The Thongaloros Empire is no more, but occasionally tunnel systems are found on certain out of the way planets, and strange starships are discovered orbiting barren moons, and odd step-pyramids are located deep in the jungle. Teleportation devices have been found, and strange plasma weapons, as deadly now as they were a thousand years ago.

In short, a secret box of puzzles and plot-hooks.

Monday, 6 December 2010

History of the RimWorlds #2

RimWorlds Sector
The dating system used in my Traveller campaign is the same as that used in Classic Traveller – ie it has been some one thousand one hundred and nine years since Cleon I founded the Third Imperium. To put this into perspective, if today’s year, 2010, equals Third Imperial Year 1109, then Cleon I ascended the Iridium Throne in 901 AD. On Earth at the beginning of the Tenth Century AD, Harald Finehair ruled a united Scandinavia, the Kievian Rus dominated Russia, and historians traditionally viewed this period as the darkest part of the European Dark Ages.

The first entry in my History of the RimWorlds is intriguing:

-3410Maasubi Religion founded by the Prophert Ragarn

The Maasubi Religion is the faith of the Most Excellent Order of Tijur, Talur and Belesarn – known as the Tijur Monks – of Lotarf/Nolgor. Of Ragarn’s story I know as little now as I did when I first pencilled the entry into my notebook sometime before December 1984.

Ragarn’s religious mission, if I have the date correct, takes place at the height of the 1st, or Vilani, Imperium, nearly one thousand years before the Solomani achived space flight. When I recently rechecked this date, my first reaction was that I had placed Ragarn’s story too early in the timeline. After playing around with several alternate interpretations of the date entry, I found that the decider here was whether Maasubi owed its origins to Vilani or Solomani mysticism. As I write this, I find myself beginning to come down on the side of the Vilani for several reasons:
· The word ‘Maasubi’ appears to me to have a certain Vilani flavour to it with the long first vowel;
· There are relics of Vilani culture and language scattered around the edges of Imperial space in the RimWorlds – such as the Rimward Coalition trade tongue Khishsuun, the Vilani/Solomani language Mersim spoken by the inhabitants of the Khedivate of Nutharal/Cabria, the Old Vilani dialect Siikharsim spoken in the Dathynan Concordance in Gazul Subsector, and the Vilani dialect Khasikha spoken in the Geithurian Republic;
· Plus given the brevity of the 2nd Imperium, the most likely pre-Third Imperium human migrants into the remote RimWorlds are Vilani, fleeing “something” –Vargr incursions or persecution by the Bureaux - by moving across Corridor Sector and into the Spinward March. Some of the Vilani exiles lingered in the March, while others pressed on, seeking to put more distance and time between them and whatever it was that had set them to flight. When the 3rd Imperium began moving into the March in the 4th Century, the Vilani exiles who had remained behind either submitted, or started running again, eventually passing up the Whisp towards Intergalactic space in the wake of the earlier migration.

This last point neatly explains the various Vilani dialects in various parts of the RimWorlds Sector, as they are indicative of several migrations of isolated populations over a period of perhaps one thousand years. This time frame is important as it neatly straddles the mysterious Thongaloros Empire.

In concept, Maasubi appears to be a meditative and martial monastic religion, something akin to Shoalin Buddhism. Additionally, Tijur Monks, particularly from Lotarf/Nolgor, are attributed Psionic powers. By 1109, Lotarf, Shenn and Thrisk are the sole remaining strongholds of Maasubi in the Rimward subsectors of the RimWorlds, though other monestary planets may exist in the Coreward subsectors, towards the Whisp route back to the Spinward March.

-609Droyne colony ship reaches Yuar/Cabria.

Droyne turn up all over the place. I quite like Droyne, and really should re-read the material I have on them. Yuar/Cabria is an interesting system for them to be occupying as it controls the Jump-3 route across the middle reaches of the Uedhkinthuez nakhae – The Black Beast – a Rift running Rimward from Gyffd and Gaidon in the Cabria Subsector. The Yuar Droyne are only Tech Level 12, but have a population in the billions. It is assumed that they arrived in the RimWorlds prior to the rise of the Thongaloros Empire but what their relationship with the Empire was like is unknown.

-143Aslan colonise Yuwe/Lymethius.

There are three known Aslan Clans in the RimWorlds; Huiha Esoyatre, Huiha Khysokhou and Huiha Weakhayuwikhye. Of the three, Huiha Weakhayuwikhye is the most isolated at the Rimward end of Gazul Subsector, and the last to settle in the RimWorlds Sector, arriving some four hundred years after the other two Huiha. Huiha Esoyatre and Huiha Khysokhou are both member-states of the Outrim Alliance and Huiha Esoyatre has been taking a greater leadership role within that alliance since the 4th Outrim War of 1080 – 85. It is possible that Huiha Khysokhou owes its origins to Huiha Esoyatre ihatei who struck out on their own to seize new lands.

Huiha Esoyatre and Huiha Khysokhou appear to have settled Yuwe/Lymethius during the Thongaloros Empire period of RimWorlds history. It is possible that the Huiha were welcomed as mercenary soldiers and given the land they craved in returned for serving the Empire as soldiers. When the Empire began to weaken, the Huiha expanded into whatever niche they could find, and fought to hold what they already had.

Given the date of settlement, it would appear that the ihatei that formed Huiha Esoyatre left Hierate space early on, crossing the Great Rift and the Trojan Reach before finding their way up the Whisp to the RimWorlds.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

A History of the Rimworlds

RimWorlds Sector Map generated by 'Heaven and Earth' My original “History of the RimWorlds” consists of two and a half pages of pencilled dates and brief notes in a 1B4 School Exercise Book. This list of dates has further additions in the margins and other spaces. A typed version of this list, including all the pencilled additions, is included in the notebook and is titled “Fourth Draft of the Complete History of the RimWorlds” and dated 22 December 1984. It was typed on my Grandmother’s Empire typewriter, the same machine I used for many of the articles I wrote for Grim Reaper magazine.

The typed version of the “History” served as the template for my website “History of the RimWorlds” when I began developing the website Traveller pages in 2008 – 2009. While writing the ‘Accidents in Astrogation’ articles for my blog in 2010, I further expanded and updated this “History” as I developed a few new ideas and personalities.

So, this is where the story of the RimWorlds begins, in the basic organisation of its history as a series of 'chapter headings'.

History of the Rimworlds

Imperial expansion into the Rimworlds has been, from the very first, sporadic and under resourced. Consequently, the Sector Dukes were forced to rely heavily upon their Subsector Dukes and the planetary and subsector navies at their command.

Such Imperial Naval units as were assigned to the Rimworlds Sector from time to time were very much used as a mobile reserve to shore up the various fortress worlds that were used to dominate volumes of space.

Berimar’s Sceptre, Gazolan and Thurgandarn were the most stable of the Rimworlds subsectors and, apart from the confusion of the Seventh Century Civil War and the Sarkul Wars of the Ninth Century, enjoyed an extended period of peace. Kaorin Subsector, after the loss of Riinu Subsector to the Klarthur Confederacy in the late Seventh Century, has also developed a thriving economic and industrial base.

Daltharmai, Gamelea, Nolgor, Miazan and Gazul Subsectors have always been under resourced and have faced increasingly well-organised and technologically adept alliances of non-Imperial states.

Table of Dates and Events

-3410Maasubi Religion founded by the Prophert Ragarn
-609Droyne colony ship reaches Yuar/Cabria.
-143Aslan colonise Yuwe/Lymethius.
103Thongaloros Empire falls to the Outrim Barbarians.
323Ftaioiaftew/Gazul settled by Aslan of Huiha Weakhayuwikhye.
497First Imperial presence in the Rimworlds in Kaorin and Berimar’s Sceptre subsectors.
540Sector Duchy of the Rimworlds established with its capital on Raelmar/Thurgandarn. Kolin I Venuraeki is first Sector Duke.
552 - 5571st Rimward War. Sector Duke Kolin II extends Imperial Rule into the Gazul Subsector against the opposition of the Rimward Coalition.
557Admiral Alleen hault-Hikisaku appointed Governor of the Trans-Nolgor Territories by Sector Duke Dentian I.
572Ftaioiaftew/Gazul joins the Rimward Coalition.
573Korbal/Gazul is settled by Aslan ihatei from Huiha Weakhayuwikhye of Ftaioiaftew/Gazul. Korbal is renamed Ikhyowou as the ihatei consolidate their hold on the planet.
593Act of Recognition passed by Sector Duke Dentian I reorganising the Trans-Nolgor Territories as Gazul Subsector, and confirming Governor hault-Hikisaku as Subsector Duke Alleen I of Gazul.
594Sector Duke Dentian I is forced to abdicate. The Sector Duchy passes, by Imperial Writ, to House Zenartoria of Heriem/Thurgandarn.
602 - 610 Civil War. Death of Sector Duke Dentian II in 610 and fall of House Zenartoria. House Maranth of Daltharmai/Daltharmai becomes Ducal House and brings stability to the Rimworlds.
652Colonisation of Kasmir/Gazul.
690 - 699Reign of Sector Duke Morthar II the Weak. Imperial control of the Sector, disrupted during the Civil War of 602 – 610, continues to weaken. Morthar is assassinated by his cousin, Deserai, who succeeds him as Neal Zuro II. During Morthar’s reign, Riinu Subsector is mostly lost to the Klarthur Confederacy.
768House Hikisaku of Gazul/Gazul succeeds House Maranth as the Sector Ducal House.
793 - 7942nd Rimward War in Gazul Subsector. A cease-fire establishes a Demilitarised Zone through Ftaioiaftew/Gazul, Gorth/Gazul and Dathyna/Gazul.
794Battle of Dathyna. Final battle of the 2nd Rimward War. Sector Duke Karthundal Hiksaku is killed when his flagship is lost with all hands.
800 Arkuru Sethlemarl, Fleet Admiral of Miazan Subsector, is made Governor of Celephais/Miazan.
810Sector Duke Liarb II Crensea is killed in fresh fighting in the Lymethius Subsector against the rising Outrim Alliance.
841The Sector fleet revolts against the policies of Sector Duke Neal-Zuro III.
842Death of Sector Duke Neal-Zuro III and the outbreak of the Sarkul Wars.
842 - 906Sarkul Wars
844Colonisation of Tulvan/Gamelea.
845Battle of Sleipner. Sector Duke Admiral Konyor Tiable is killed. Grand Admiral Stalmar Carlslein reigns as sole Duke until 847.
847 - 850The Dual Sector Duchy. With the proclamation of Admiral Kranan hault-Lerneister as Sector Duke by his fleet, the Sector is split between hault-Lerneister and Stalmar Carlslein. By 849 each has successfully put down all rivals within his Domain.
851The Pilgrims, a religious sect, purchase and settle Omega Vasalai IX/Miazan. Sector Duke Admiral Kranan hault-Lerneister, the last of the Sector Admirals, dies on Rorena.
852Emanon/Gazul settled by colonists from the Dathynan Concordance capital Dathyna/Gazul.
8823rd Rimward War. The Rimward Coalition takes advantage of the Sarkul Wars to expand its borders. By treaty, the Demilitarised Zone now consists of Kralkor II/Gazul, Ikhyowou/Gazul, Arnak/Gazul and Emmanon/Gazul. Ftaioiaftew and Dathyna rejoin the Rimward Coalition.
884Governor Arkuru III Sethlemarl of Celephais takes the title of Viceroy.
885 Odinite discovered on Tulvan/Gamelea.
906Leonid I ‘the Great’ Trumer of Ulvar/Kaorin receives Imperial support as Sector Duke of the Rimworlds. In a rapid campaign of bluff and intimidation, he pacifies and unites the Imperial portion of the Sector. Chi’leur Geyukthi, Leonid’s aide de camp, is made Duke of Miazan Subsector. Lanyard I Sethlemarl is confirmed as Viceroy of Celephais.
925 - 9301st Outrim War. Nearo/Lymethius is devastated by nuclear and biological attack.
954 - 962 2nd Outrim War.
959Colonisation of Solaris/Nolgor.
975Colonisation of Feor/Gamelea.
999Alexuv III, the last Trumer Sector Duke, dies. House Geyukthi of Miazan/Miazan inherits the Sector Duchy.
1007Colonisation of Auru/Lymethius.
1022Klorin Asteroid War. Varch/Gamelea is conquered by Kalar-Wi/Gamelea. Viceroy Odulu Calon Sethlemarl-Geyukthi of Celephais/Miazan and Subsector Duke Petron III of Gamelea/Gamelea are killed in the fighting.
1025 - 10383rd Outrim War. Fall of House Geyukthi.
1025Subsector Duke Tolarman of Gamelea/Gamelea is killed in the opening weeks of the 3rd Outrim War.
1031Fleet Admiral Yuri Sethlemarl, Viceroy of Celephais/Miazan, is elected Sector Duke by the Fleet and charged with winning the 3rd Outrim War.
1031 - 1032Rivokul War on Kamperel/Miazan. The People's Justice Army overthrow House Rivokul, Siridar-Barons of Kamperel, exposing their corrupt practises.
1037Siege of Gamelea/Gamelea by Outrim forces during the 3rd Outrim War.
1039Colonisation of Breknor/Cabria by the Hunt of Rronurl, a Vargr band.
1041Death of Sector Duke Yuri Sethlemarl.
1042 - 1044 Rimbaud War.
1044Duke Olgarthi Ulanor of Nolgor/Nolgor becomes Sector Duke of the Rimworlds following the abdication of Sector Duke Arkuru Sethlemarl (Viceroy Arkuru VI) of Celephais/Miazan.
1046Birth of Iroioah Foesplitter, Patriarch of E’kho Tlanoweas of Khekheawaoh/Cabria.
1051Ektran Rebellion. An uprising against Kamperelian businesses dominating the economy of Ektra/Miazan leads to Kamperelian military intervention and the annexation of the system.
1053Birth of George II Fairweather von Lukaskow of Kartivia/Gazul.
1054Birth of Ezra Weinbach.
1062Birth of Bulgor Ramon.
1072Anoth/Cabria colonised by the Hand of Ssra’ka Aissr, a Tsalur warrior clan.
1079Zhodani mercantile base established on Eurl/Cabria.
1080 - 1085 4th Outrim War.
1082Conquest of Florana/Miazan by Kamperel/Miazan.
1084Rebellion of Pheidos/Gazul. Subsector Duke Calib IV of Gazul/Gazul is assassinated during a state visit to Pheidos.
1085Battle of Anthorann/Gamelea. Grand Admiral Odg’tal Alveuk leads the Kalar-Wi Planetary Navy to a crushing victory over Outrim Alliance forces (4th Outrim War). The Black Comet Organisation (B.C.O.), a loose federation of pirates and revolutionaries, rises to power in the aftermath of the war.
1087Kerak/Gamelea is abandoned in the aftermath of the 4th Outrim War.
1089Hasku/Gazul is opened up for settlement.
1090 - 1095 Zoni Wars.
1090Count Liarb X of Daxam/Gazul is killed in a Zoni attack on Kartivia/Gazul. Colonisation of Fiona/Lymethius.
1091Battle of Pheidos. Count Yohanus VII of Daxam/Gazul is killed in battle against the Zoni Raiders. Count Dana of Daxam/Gazul is killed during the 1st Siege of Lur/Nolgor.
1092Annexation of Thrisk/Nolgor by Lotarf/Nolgor.
1093Declaration of Independence by Naos VI/Nolgor.
1097Death of Sector Duke Edenar Ulanor and the end of House Ulanor of Nolgor. A Black Comet Organisation Starfleet defeats the 112th Imperial Task Force at the Battle of Waldak/Nolgor. Later this year, battles at Sleipnir/Nolgor and Jotham/Nolgor occur before the B.C.O. pirate fleet is finally defeated.
1098Death of Jarmata Zaparino, leader of the B.C.O., in a gunfight in Canblyne Startown, Canblyne/Gamelea.
1099Annexation of Gaidon/Cabria by Kalar-Wi/Gamelea.
1100Death of Jan Brenlsky, nominal head of the B.C.O., on Vanvlack VII/Gamelea.
1101Nuclear war forestalled on Feor/Gamelea by Imperial intervention.
1103 - 1105Kalar-Wi War. Following the defeat of the Kalar-Wi, the systems of Varch/Gamelea, Anthorann/Gamelea and Rimbaud/Gamelea are reclaimed by Imperial authorities. Warlord Vran’kal Youka of Kalar-Wi flees into the Outrim and Kalar-Wi is forced to accept an Imperial garrison.
1105Death of Duke Adryos Urzov IV of Gamelea/Gamelea.
1106Occupation of the Kalar-Wi colony world of Kidan/Lymethius by the Huiha Esoyatre.
1107Death of Sector Duke Mekal Hendrian and the accession of his brother as Akansair II.
1109Major war breaks out on Welthor/Lymethius. Subsector Duke Mah’radys IV of Miazan is deposed and executed by a military junta. Civil war breaks out on Miazan/Miazan. The Imperial garrison on Kalar-Wi/Gamelea is withdrawn and Warlord Vran’kal Youka returns to power.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Design Notes

RimWorlds Sector map c. 1984
The series of basic overviews of the six developed subsectors of the RimWorlds, collectively known as “Accidents in Astrography”, has been a lot of fun for me to write. I have taken the opportunity of both revisiting these subsectors after many years, and gleaning information for my website – in particular Languages and Library Data – as well as creating some new material, such as some historical and Astrography details.

What is interesting is that I can still see the early development layers, and what Science Fiction was influencing me, as I wrote up the three original subsectors of Gamelea, Nolgor and Miazan. Gazul Subsector came next, but was only partially developed (and only one game was set there, from memory). Lymethius Subsector was developed to provide a little background for the Outrim Wars, and for a late period Esra Weinbach game – so named for the longest serving character in the RimWorlds - while Cabria Subsector was fleshed out to provide a bigger battleground in which to resist Imperial expansion. A recent, abortive, attempt to run a PBeM game resulted in me expanding the Hunt of Rronurl and Huiha Khysokhou.

One of things that enrich a campaign, in my opinion, is a deep background. Things on the surface happen for a reason; and the reason, or reasons, lie back in time. Like creating a character for a novel, a lot of this material will never see the light of day, but if the novelist or Referee has worked out this detail, he/she will know why things are happening that effect the Player Characters.

I’m a firm believer that a campaign needs both a chronology and a macro-map. The former can be just a series of bullet points collecting together significant events, or it can be an in-depth account of all events that have gone before, while the latter can just shows a high-altitude view of the campaign area, or a meticulous survey of the all regions surrounding the campaign area.

A chronology fixes the game in time, and gives reference points for the character – if the players know that the Imperium defeated the Kalar-Wi Empire in 1105, and they encounter a Kalar-Wi warship in the Border Worlds in 1109, it is possible that this ship is a relic of the war. The Kalar-Wi lost three systems to the Imperium in that war, as well as having their homeworld occupied. If the ship is wrecked it might have a treasure horde, looted from one of the worlds the Kalar-Wi lost, but if it is cruising, it could be an “unsurrendered” raider bent on revenge attacks. Likewise, a sector map showing subsector capitals allowed me to write up the likely course of the Sarkul Wars of 842 – 906 when I came to that section of the Imperial History of the RimWorlds. Up until that time, I had no idea what the Sarkul Wars were about; except that they were some form of civil war and that they disrupted the RimWorlds for sixty years. The character of Principle Secretary Lissa Sarkul only emerged as I began to write that section – and my love of Byzantine History allowed me to create the Byzantine levels of that conflict – where the clannish Subsector Dukes and Admirals actively resisted the centralising Sector Duke. The seeds of the war were planted two centuries prior to Lissa Sarkul, but her policies in the name of her Sector Duke revived the centrifugal nature of the original ‘gentleman-adventurer’ nature of settlement of the RimWorlds.

For my next series of articles on the RimWorlds, I’m going to look at the history of the region, and possibly do a little exploration into the Outrim Void to map the worlds I’ve hinted at in my accounts of Lymethius and Cabria subsectors.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Accidents in Astrogation – Cabria Subsector #2

Cabria Subsector - where languages collide. Image used without permission from GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 1 by Steve Jackson GamesCabria Subsector is home to four Minor Races; the Kiang of Gaidon, the Ly-ly of Gyven's World, the Gdemiar of Naird, and the Ta'tero of Wyern; as well as systems settled by migrant populations of Aslan, Vargr, Purvions, Tsalur, Kalar-Wi, Solomani sub-lighters, Zhodani merchants, Darrian exiles, a Hiver Society, Sword World miners, general misfits and Droyne. With such a collection of divergent races within such a small amount of space, a variety of languages are spoken within the Subsector:

Aerrghvi: – Vargr dialect of Gvegh, one of the major Vargr language groups, spoken by the Vargr mercenary clan settled on Lo-Taisang/Cabria and who trade regularly along the Miazan Main.
Arrghoun: – Ancient Vargr language, spoken by Vargr of the Hunt of Rronurl, indicating that their ancestors left the Vargr Extents some 2,000 years ago.
Dwerk: – Dominant language of the Gdemiar Minor Race of Naird.
Fahlok: – Dominant language of the Ly-ly Minor Race of Gyvern’s World.
Igzgal – Vargr dialect spoken by the Vargr mercenary clan settled on Tonivar/Cabria and who trade regularly along the Miazan Main.
Kassuriik: - Main language of the Purvion Minor Race of Lithia/Miazan and spoken on the Purvion colony worlds of Pythor and Klearo.
Khasikha: - Vilani dialect used as the official language of the Geithurian Republic in Lymethius Subsector.
Mersim: – Vilani/Solomani language spoken by the inhabitants of the Khedivate of Nutharal, settled on Nutharal and Brol.
Miazan Imperial Basic: - Dialect of Imperial Basic spoken along the Miazan Main, and on worlds to trailing of the Uedhkinthuez nakhae Rift.
Oynprith: - Main language of the Droyne colony of Yuar/Cabria.
Rur’ur’lm: – Main language of the Ta'tero Minor Race of Wyern/Cabria.
Shtanzhret: – Dialect of Zhodani spoken by the small Zhodani enclave settled on Eurl/Cabria.
Te-Zlodh: - Main Darrian language as spoken by the Darrian exiles settled on Withor/Cabria.
Trade Lingo: - A pidgin language commonly used by merchants moving to and fro across the Imperial Border. Using base words from Imperial Basic, Gvegh and Trokh, Trade Lingo can convey basic concepts around buying and selling goods and passing news.
Trokh Khysokhou: - Dialect of Trokh spoken by Aslan of Huiha Khysokhou of Awakea, Khekheawaoh and Heaohwiy in Cabria Subsector and Salau and Kahuai in Entorth Subsector.
Trokh Esoyatre: - dialect of Trokh spoken by Aslan of Huiha Esoyatre in Lymethius Subsector.
Tsalui: - Native language of the Tsalur Minor Race of Xcothal/Nolgor and of the Hand of Ssra'Ka Aissr Pocket Empire in Cabria and Entorth Subsectors.
Vriok: - the main Kalar-Wi language spoken on Kalar-Wi/Gamelea and the worlds of the old Kalar-Wi Empire such as Loa-Wi, Gaidon and Yolurlund.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Aslan and K'kree

GURPS Traveller Alien Races 2 - Aslan and K'kreeGURPS Traveller: Alien Races 2
by Andy Slack, David Thomas and David L. Pulver

The second in the GURPS Traveller line of Alien books examines the Aslan and K’kree Major Races in some detail. Having recently read the Mongoose Traveller Aslan book, I was interested to compare the two works, particularly as I still refer to the original GDW Aslan Alien Module for guidance for the Aslan character I am playing in a Classic Traveller PBeM.

Of the three works, the sketchiest is the original Aslan Module – the Aslan were still in a state of development and, consequently, were treated in a broad-brush fashion. Andy Slack appears to have been the lead writer on the GURPS version and, as he says in his notes on the Steve Jackson Games support site, he was very conscious of both the Classic Traveller Aslan, and the reworked Aslan of Digest Group Publications MegaTraveller. With the latter material subject to copyright issues, the GURPS material had to walk a fine line between regurgitation and rewriting, while still offering something new for players who had moved on to GURPS Traveller from the earlier versions of the game.

And I think Andy and his co-writers pull it off. There is a warmth about the telling of the Aslan story that indicates to me the writers know their subject well and have an affinity for it. There are nice, new little cultural touches, as well as broad-brush considerations of the Hierate, its politics and why Aslan in this book may differ from earlier accounts. Some nice starship deck plans round out the Aslan section.

The K’kree section, in contrast, feels a little more mechanical. A species of militant claustrophobic vegetarians who dislike technology but who are bent of galactic conquest does take a pretty big hit on the believe-o-meter. While the material from the original GDW Alien Module is worked over nicely, and there are some good tips for Refereeing K’kree (like being careful the K’kree player doesn’t treat his compulsory entourage as a skills grab bag), I find that I would probably only use K'kree in my campaign as NPCs as there are a number of downsides to them that could make them very frustrating to play as Player Characters.

This book concludes with two minor races, the Inyx and the Devi Intelligence. Of the two, the latter – a dimorphic intelligent fungoid species – actually interests me the most and is a race I would seriously consider adding to my game. The Inyx, on the other hand, a race of aquatic ergovoric parasites, don’t interest me as much. In some aspects, they are so alien that I can see very little scope for interaction between them and Humaniti or any of the other Major Races, which for me lessens their usefulness as characters in a Traveller game.

Finally, comparing GURPS Aslan with Mongoose Traveller Aslan, I find myself wishing to graft the cultural elements of the GURPS version onto the Mongoose Version, and this is simply for story telling reasons, as I do like what Mongoose has done with Aslan.

Sadly, GURPS Traveller Alien Races 2 appears to be out of print from Steve Jackson Games – I seem to recall that I picked up my copy through eBay UK – though it is available as a pdf from Steve Jackson Games’ e23 e-shop and would make a valuable addition to a Traveller Referee's toolkit of ideas.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Accidents in Astrogation – Cabria Subsector #1

Cabria SubsectorSpinward of Miazan Subsector and Rimward of Lymethius Subsector, Cabria Subsector consists of the Tonivar and Suarya Clusters, the Crown of Brol and the Par Vera Main constellations.

Lying across the Trailing border of Cabria Subsector, and Jump-2 from the Kalar-Wi Cluster, the Tonivar Cluster consists of the Imperial controlled system of Tonivar, the Kalar-Wi colony world of Yolurlund, and Gaidon, homeworld of the Kiang Minor Race and a member world of the Kalar-Wi Pocket Empire. At the Rimward end of the subsector the six-system Suarya Cluster, controlled by the Vargr-dominated Hunt of Rronurl, sprawls over the Rimward border into Kfukskho Subsector. Suarya, capital of the Hunt, and Breknor, colonised within the last century, lie within Cabria Subsector while Akhvooel, Ingvouks, Rigvinghue and Taghdo lie further Rimward. The four-system Crown of Brol runs in an arc from Pythor on the Spinward border of the subsector, through Klearo, Naird – homeworld of the Gdemiar Minor Race, to Brol, part of the Solomani dominated Khedivate of Nutharal.

The most dominant astronomical feature of Cabria Subsector is the Par Vera Main. From Wyern, homeworld of the Ta'tero Minor Race, on the Rimward border, the Main passes through Heaohwiy, Khekheawaoh and Awakea (with a side spur to Hteiwekhoi in Entorth Subsector), member worlds of Huiha Khysokhou; then the independent worlds of Gyvern’s World, homeworld of the Ly-ly Minor Race, Juchis, Eurl and Withor; before looping through Nutharal, capital of the Khedivate of Nutharal; and Par Vera and Anoth, member worlds of the Tsalur-dominated Hand of Ssra’Ka Aissr. From Par Vera and Anoth, the Par Vera Main turns Spinward, running into Entorth Subsector for six parsecs before terminating at Sh’tok.

The second most dominant astronomical feature in the subsector is the Uedhkinthuez nakhae – the Black Beast – a Rift running to Rimward from Gyffd and Gaidon into Kfukskho Subsector. At its narrowest, the Uedhkinthuez nakhae is Jump-3 across, and this has historically restricted trade and communication across the subsector.

Cabria Subsector contains twenty-seven worlds with a total population of 13.198 billion sophonts. The highest population, 9, is at Par Vera, Yuar and Gaidon, and the highest Tech Level, E, is at Par Vera. Only two systems, Lo Taisang and Tonivar, are under Imperial control and are administratively part of the Duchy of Miazan; thirteen worlds belong to no interstellar polity – either due to choice, as in the case of the Droyne colony world of Yuar or the mixed-race colony of Waystar, or due to poverty or lack of technology; and twelve worlds belong to either the Aslan-dominated Huiha Khysokhou, the Vargr-dominated Hunt of Rronurl, Kalar-Wi, the Human-dominated Khedivate of Nutharal, or the Tsalur-dominated Hand of Ssra'Ka Aissr. Most systems in Cabria Subsector have been, or are still, members of the Outrim Alliance and have been involved in the various Outrim Wars against the Imperium.

Cabria Subsector is home to four Minor Races; the humanoid Kiang of Gaidon, the octopedal desert-dwelling Ly-ly of Gyven's World, the diminutive Gdemiar of Naird, and the hexapedal Ta'tero of Wyern.

Purvions from Lithia/Miazan established colonies at Pythor and Klearo during the Long Night, while Kalar-Wi colonies were established on Loa-Wi and Yolurlund within the last eight hundred years. Darrians, Zhodani and Hiver have also established relatively small and weak colonies at Withor, Eurl and Julchis, while the ancient Droyne settled world of Yuar enjoys both population and tech level superiority over many neighbouring worlds.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Accidents in Astrogation – Lymethius Subsector #2

Konzevr Zdiea Edlchtel of Appaer, President of the Geithurian RepublicThe Fourth Outrim War (1080 – 85) was the last major conflict along the Spinward Frontier of Gamelea Subsector prior to the Kalar-Wi War of 1103 – 1105. Once again, Outrim Alliance fleets penetrated Imperial Space, wrecking havoc in the Jump Zones of lightly held Imperial worlds and, once again, Imperial and Subsector Task Forces stopped Alliance Fleets cold in the approaches to High Population worlds. Once again, Alliance Ground Forces were landed on individual Imperial worlds and, once again, they took Low Population worlds and were defeated on High Population worlds.

Konzevr Zdiea Edlchtel of Appaer/Lymethius, acting in his capacity as President of the Geithurian Republic, forced the war vote through the Republican Council in early 1080. In the months leading up to the war vote, Edlchtel and his advisors had become increasingly alarmed at reports from Republican Intelligence - Iqro' Zhdable. Iqro' Zhdable Section 4 (IZd 4) - Counter Intelligence - had noted the trending upwards of separatist actions and activities on various member worlds of the Republic. Investigations indicated possible Imperial Intelligence involvement as agents provocateurs or in providing material assistance and training. As the separatist movements gathered strength and sought to paralyse the Republic’s military forces, President Edlchtel felt driven to strike back against them and against their Imperial masters.

Assured of the support of the Esoyatreko Tlehiui V of Yuwe/Lymethius and of the Huiha Esoyatre, President Zdiea Edlchtel moved quickly to bring other member states of the Outrim Alliance into the impending war. While Huiha Khysokhou remained neutral in the ensuing conflict, the other members of the Alliance began to mobilise.

The deaths in quick succession of Imperial Sector Duke Kanus II and Duke Pahran of Gamelea in 1080 should have paralysed the Imperial defence as Alliance Fleets crossed the border but, in both cases, Imperial forces were much better prepared than had been predicted. This state of readiness was no accident. Sector Duke Kanus II and his Head of Imperial Intelligence, Siridar-Lord Elmar Hendrian of Pashur/Gazolan, had been actively working to neutralise the Geithurian Republic by encouraging the centrifugal political forces suppressed by President Zdiea Edlchtel to tear the Republic apart. Part of their planning factored in Edlchtel’s possible need for an external war to retain power, and to this end the bulk of the RimWorlds Imperial Naval units were already on-station in the Gamelea Subsector when war was declared.

Kanus’ death in 1080 on the eve of the war threw the Subsector Fleets into turmoil as various political factions began jockeying for influence with his uncle and successor, Edenar of Nolgor. Lord Elmar managed to keep Kanus’ plan on track by pulling squadrons into Gamelea Subsector from Gazul, Gazolan and Thurgandarn Subsectors but Duke Pahran’s death was a complication unplanned for. Fortunately, Lord Elmar’s brother, Duke Akansair of Thiroor/Gazolan, persuaded Duke Pahran’s son, Adryos Urzov, to move faster than required by protocol. Ordering the Gamelea Subsector Navy under his brother, Admiral Lord Talarman Juharl-Zarquestuir, into action, Adryos Urzov went personally to meet Duke Edenar’s Nolgor Subsector Fleet at Canblyne to urge them on towards the crucial first battlegrounds at Julnar.

Sector Duke Edenar was far more cautious and far less imaginative than his nephew, Kanus II, and so the war ground on with Imperial Forces grimly attempting to hold the border while Alliance raiders attempted to cut their supply lines. During this time, Lord Elmar continued his secret war in the Geithurian Republic, while trying to provide the intelligence that Sector Duke Edenar demanded, yet never paid any attention to. Elmar’s greatest coup of the war was the reactivation of the alliance with the Kalar-Wi which had fallen away after the Klorin Asteroid War of 1022.

In 1085, Kalar-Wi Grand Admiral Odg’tal Alveuk lead the Kalar-Wi Planetary Navy to a crushing victory over a predominantly Geithurian Republican fleet at Anthorann/Gamelea. The member governments of the Republic, sick of the war, promptly recalled President Zdiea Edlchtel’s Council and the Republic was effectively out of the war. Sector Duke Edenar’s Fleet Admiral Colleen von Aachol-Kalan-Salvan defeated an Outrim Alliance fleet at Gaidon/Cabria a month later and Admiral Chi’leur Baron Culvenia led the mopping up operation that chased the last of the raiders out of the Border Worlds by 1086.

Sakliavr Edlchtel became Konzevr of Appaer/Lymethius in late 1085 and President of the Geithurian Republic two years later, but his tenure as President was marred by a political malaise that threatened the collapse of the Republic.

Lord Elmar’s secessionists had struck deep roots amongst some of the populations of the Republic, roots that IZd 4 could not pull out. Such were the divisions in the Republican Council that when the Kalar-Wi War broke out in 1103, nearly twenty years later, the Republic took four months to issue a political position on the war, and then couched in such terms as to be mostly irrelevant. With the Geithurian Republic’s attention focussed inward, Huiha Esoyatre has assumed defacto leadership of the Outrim Alliance. Esoyatreko Tlehiui V of Yuwe/Lymethius, 79 in 1109, remains firmly in control of the Huiha but has shown little interest in managing the complex relationships within the larger Alliance.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Website Update #9

Kurgan Infantry from Rebel Minis painted up as KiangFinally updated my modelling log on my website. With that done, I can get back to the article I'm writing on the Lymethius Subsector for this blog.

At present, I'm trying to match figures to the various alien races I have in my Traveller campaign. I'm pretty certain that I'm going to use GZG Alien Mercenaries SG15-X05 and X08 as Kalar-Wi. And now that I have painted up some Kurgan from Rebel Minis, I have a match for the Kiang, a Minor Race that the Kalar-Wi use as cheap ground troops.

More to come.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Visualising Characters

Ahkalhyo Ftaohkoi, a native of the Isalaiat Dominate of Reaver's Deep Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to play in several PBeM Traveller games and at one stage I was playing in three games at the same time. PBeM games are very heavily dependant upon the enthusiasm and commitment of the Referee and two of the games I was playing in foundered when the Referee become distracted by Real World issues.

The most successful game, and the one that is still going, is the Classic Traveller campaign set in the Reavers’ Deep and is run by a friend of mine, Brett, who is based in Queensland, Australia. With players in New Zealand, the United States, and Europe, we have times when there is a lot of activity, and times when Real Life slows us down. Brett’s enthusiasm for the game keeps things moving and is such that he is even producing a Traveller Fanzine, Into the Deep.

PBeM games are, in reality, exercises in group creative writing. To help me settle into the character I have created, I enjoy creating a picture of that character. As I am not a very proficient artist, I have discovered the fun of compositing a character portrait from various Internet elements in MS Paint and tweaking the picture through PhotoStudio 2000.

The picture at the top of this article is of my character in the Reavers' Deep game, the Aslan pilot Ahkalhyo Ftaohkoi. The picture is constructed from a publicity still of Aslan from the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (and my little pun), and the space suit from a Science Fiction film with the female occupant’s face removed – I can’t recall the film that the space suit came from but, again, I found a publicity still online.

Akaiin Esaarti, Agent/Rogue of Lunion in the Spinward MarchesAkaiin Esaarti was an Intelligence Agent/Rogue Mongoose Traveller character I generated for a game set in the Spinward Marches. We managed to get a little adventuring done before the Referee disappeared. He did attempt to restart the game some months later but by that time I had other commitments and couldn’t continue. Akaiin’s portrait is built up around a still of Al Pacino from the movie Scarface. The planet in the background is a piece of random Science Fiction art I found on the Internet while the monitor bank is actually from a still of a television control room – the monitor bank is copied and reversed for a longer run, with the join hidden behind the character. The gantries to the left and right are cut from some technical picture and fitted together.

Balziac GervaisorBalziac Gervaisor was a Classic Traveller Book 7 Merchant Engineer created for another PBeM set in the Spinward Marches. We had a lot of fun getting the party aboard a liner and then battling hijackers during Jump, and then the Referee just sorta got bored with the game and dropped out. One of the players sort of took over the game but the reboot didn’t work and that game fizzled out, too. Balziac’s portrait on the Engineering deck is built up around a still of the actor John Goodman. The background is built up from various stills of a ship’s engine room and various other industrial pictures. The text is actually a Vilani font I found on the Internet.

Balziac clears CustomsI had so much fun with Balziac that I created another picture of him from a still from the film The Big Lebowski with a background of a starport that I found on the Internet.

Like Scrapbooking and Sampling, compositing character pictures takes existing elements and presents them in a new light. It's lots of fun and adds another layer of enjoyment to a Traveller game.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Shiney New Stuff

Cover of d66 Compendium - artwork used completely without permissionI stumbled across a notice about the impending release of this Compendium by Jon Brazer Enterprises a week or so ago. We had a power cut just before I could finish this post and I only rediscovered this draft a couple of days ago.

Going back to check my source material, I could not find the Compendium listed on Jon Brazer Enterprises' website nor on any of my usual gaming haunts. And then a link popped up on Facebook today, indicating that the Compendium was at the printers and almost ready to go.

If you follow this link to Jon Brazer Enterprises' website, you should be able to read a brief review of what's in the Compendium (hint to review writers: "stuff", while succinct, is not terribly helpful - "usefull stuff" is not much better) in the News and Blog section.

Basically, the d66 Compendium brings together in one place a series of d66 tables, such as JBE has been releasing over the last little while - tables for generating Aslan Female Names, Random stuff found in the Ship's Locker, Orbital Facility Names, etc - which give Referees another little tool in their tool box to help keep their games rolling when players suddenly ask, "what bar should we meet at?" or "what ships are in port?"

Website Update #8

President Viscount Marc Van Zaquerl of KamperelSlowly catching up - posted two updates to the Modeling Log of my
website, showing some figures I've finished, including some John Bear Ross HAMR Suites from Rebel Minis.

Also featured are further updates to the Library Data of my Traveller page, mainly resulting from work I've done on this blog.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Allies, Contacts, Enemies and Rivals

Cover of Allies, Contacts, Enemies and Rivals - image lifted from the Spica Publishing Site Allies, Contacts, Enemies and Rivals:
A sourcebook for Mongoose Traveller
By John Griffiths, Richard Hazlewood and Daniel W. Hammersley

I must say first up, that my wife and I had the privilege of proofing an early version of Allies, Contacts, Enemies and Rivals, and I have just spent the last week or so working on a final proof and edit for this book, the latest offering from Spica Publishing.

The ACER project started somewhere around the beginning to middle of last year and then dropped off the radar for a time. A couple of months back the project fired up again and before I knew what was happening, there was a release date. With the release immanent, John sent me an updated manuscript to proof. The timing was bad for me, but I finally got it done, dusted, and emailed yesterday.

The book as a whole is a very useful Referee’s tool. Alongside a collection of basic stat block characters, in the grand tradition of Classic Traveller’s 1001 Characters, there are 24 characters fully worked up as Allies, Contacts, Enemies and Rivals as per the Mongoose Traveller rules, as well as a free trader and crew; a Detached Scout and crew; a PsiTac Team; six individual NPCs; and the crew of a mercenary cruiser and their mercenary platoon – a total of 62 characters plus a 40 strong combat platoon, as well as a further 48 ‘red shirt’ basic stat block characters.

So, very good value for money, well presented and available either through DrivethruRPG as a pdf, or via Spica’s Lulu store for a print copy – both links are on the Spica Publishing site, linked to above.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Vilani Word Dump

Sometimes, a Vilani word or name dropped into conversation during a game is useful in enhancing the players’ experience of life in the Far Future. Inspired by Jon Brazer Enterprises’ d66 compendia and with access to Space Corsair’s language generator, I present two d66 Vilani word tables – one of two syllable and one of three syllable words. Roll 1 d6 for ‘tens’ and a second for ‘ones’.

Suggested uses include personal names, names of items, and elements of language such as greetings, curses and expressions.

Vilani Word Table – 2 Syllables


Vilani Word Table – 3 Syllables


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Accidents in Astrogation – Lymethius Subsector #1

Lymethius Subsector
Spinward of Gamelea Subsector lies Lymethius Subsector. Astrographically, Lymethius consists of the Tallu, Kalar-Wi and Yuakteisye Clusters and the Julnar and Aaron Reaches.

Ouron, Finduil and Por’via are Imperial worlds and are considered part of the Julnar Reach and, along with Anar, are part of the Duchy of Gamelea, while the Aaron Reach, named for the bright F5 primary of the Lysarnor System, contains the bulk of the population of the Geithurian Republic at Appaer, Geithur and Lysarnor.

The Tallu Cluster is divided between the Imperium, with its toehold at Anar; the Geithurian Republic, holding Jul’ni and Coroson; and the independent systems of Tallu, Auru and the dead world of Nearo. Only Kidan and Masaad of the Kalar-Wi Cluster lie within Lymethius Subsector. Kidan was seized by Huiha Esoyatre ihatei in 1106 following the collapse of the Kalar-Wi State at the end of the Kalar-Wi War. Now known as Yaitlaorail, the 40,000 Kalar-Wi of Kidan are seeing a massive influx of Esoyatre Aslan moving onto their planet. Yuakteisye Cluster consists of the four systems settled by the Aslan Huiha Esoyatre and lies across most of the trade routes between Lymethius and Cabria Subsectors.

A scattering of systems along the Spinward edge of Lymethius Subsector provide routes further Spinward into Per Vulia Subsector.

The 2nd Rimward War (793 – 794) in Gazul Subsector blunted Imperial consolidation of the Julnar Reach route around the end of the Perrsherrik Rift. The Geithurian Republic and Huiha Esoyatre formed an alliance to prevent further Imperial expansion through the Tallu Cluster and Huiha Esoyatre then became the driving force behind what is now known as the Outrim Alliance. The Outrim Alliance has fought four wars with the Imperium since the early 10th Century to contain Imperial expansion and fix the border fairly much where it is today.

Lymethius Subsector is home to two Major Races – humans of mixed Vilani and Zhodani stock, and Aslan – and three Minor Races: the ursoid Purvions of Tallu, while related to the Purvions of Lithia/Miazan, have a comparatively High Technology civilization and have successfully maintained their independence for nearly 1000 years; the diminutive psionic Aaronites from the warrens of Lysarnor are valued mechanics and crafts-sophonts; while the Tharoysa of Dysa Metharoth have a reputation as shrewd merchants.

There are a number of languages current in Lymethius Subsector:
Cassingal: - dialect of Gazolin Imperial Basic, Cassingal has spread over the coreward border of Gamelea Subsector and is spoken on all the worlds of the Julnar Reach - Tulvan, Julnar, Leminkainen, and Ouron, Finduil and Por'via in the Lymethius Subsector. Gamelea Imperial Basic speakers and Cassingal speakers can understand each other, though quietly laugh at each other’s accents and spelling conventions.
Gamelea Imperial Basic: - spoken on Anar, and by Gamelea Ducal officials on Ouron, Finduil and Por'via.
Kassuriik: - main language of the Purvion Minor Race of Tallu and related to the Kassuriik spoken by the Purvions of Lithia/Miazan.
Khasikha: - Vilani dialect used as a native language by the inhabitants of Appaer/Lymethius and subsequently adopted as the official language of the Geithurian Republic.
Lhosuwha: - main language of the Tharoysa Minor Race of Dysa Metharoth/Lymethius.
Phijudas: - main language of the Aaronite Minor Race of Lysarnor/Lymethius.
Trokh Esoyatre: - dialect of Trokh spoken by Aslan of Huiha Esoyatre of Yuwe, Atlasiykh, Faiwawhwe, Yuakteisye and Yaitlaorail in Lymethius Subsector.
Vriok: - main language of the Kalar-Wi Minor Race spoken on Kalar-Wi and the worlds of the old Kalar-Wi Empire, including Kidan and Masaad in Lymethius Subsector.

Lymethius Subsector contains twenty-six worlds with a total population of 186.202 billion sophonts. The highest population, A, is at Appaer and Yuakteisye, and the highest Tech Level, C, is at Appaer, Yuwe and Tallu.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Cover of Mongoose Traveller Book 6: Scoundrel

Mongoose Traveller Book 6: Scoundrel
By Gareth Hanrahan

Taking the Rogue and Drifter career paths from the Mongoose Traveller Core rules, this supplement expands them in a similar fashion to what has been done with other careers in previous books in this series. Also covered are Barbarians and Belters, two other marginalized groups.

Career paths for Scoundrels can be:
Intruder: which divides into Hacker, Burglar and Faceman (Facebeing?).
Smuggler: which includes Blockade Runner, Bootlegger, and Smuggler Crew.
Organised Criminal: Assassin, Enforcer, or Co-ordinator.
Pirate: Corsair, Boarder, or Jumpcusser.
Scavenger: Wrecker, Salvage Expert, or Tombrobber
Wanderer: Hitchhiker, Vagabond, or Bandit
Barbarian: Warrior, Tribesman, Shaman.

Imprisonment can be an occupational hazard for a Scoundrel, particularly during Character generation. A nice little metagame about Incarceration features just after the chargen section and can see your Scoundrel put away for up to 4 terms, especially if the Scoundrel’s lawyer isn’t much use, and the DMs are against you! Adventure 2: Prison Planet apparently has a Prison skill section that one’s character can use while inside or alternatively, there is a Prison Skills table attached to the Incarceration section to ensure that all is not completely lost while the character is doing time.

Criminal organisations are examined from a game point of view, and some of the concepts used to develop Intelligence agencies in Book 5: Agent feature in the fleshing out of such organisations, particularly the concept of Trust. The more Trusted a criminal is within his or her organisation, the more likely he or she will receive aid and assistance in performing heists or being extricated from a sticky legal situation. Of course, membership of such an organisation can be a source of future adventure hooks, particularly if the character thinks he or she has ‘left that life behind’. Several sample Organisations, ranging from the criminal, through the Political to the Religious, are presented to demonstrate how such organisations can be detailed for one’s own campaign

Piracy is looked at in some depth and both the pro and con arguments concerning piracy, particularly in a Traveller setting, are presented, including the fact that the practicalities of space piracy have been a long-running debate amongst Traveller fans. While the writer seems to needlessly split pirates into specialities (and some pretty artificial specialities at that), there is a nice reminder of one of Science Fiction’s more enduring pirate types, the raider or Star Viking.

There’s a nice little ship encounter table for pirates hunting prey near a main world, and a modified table for pirates working the Belt or outsystem. A pirate attack on merchant shipping is broken down into a series of tasks rolls which allows the process to be metagamed or played out in detail as required, and there are sections on Pirate Hunters, Pirate Bounties, and how to factor Pirate Loot.

The Intrusion section describes how a heist can be broken down into a series of skill rolls, allowing several jobs to be run in a session. Alternatively, the task rolls can be expanded upwards again as part of a roleplaying session. Helpfully, various security features for various tech levels are also considered as part of fitting out the target of the heist. Computer Hacking and how this works with the Traveller Core computer rules is also covered in some detail and a ‘sample target’ is described in sufficient detail to be lifted wholesale and dropped into a session.

The mechanics of smuggling are considered, including suggested levels of security checks at starports, and how a successful smuggler might go about subverting them. This section also includes several small scenario ideas that both describe a situation and then put several twists on it.

And then finally there’s a section on fencing illegal goods that, much in the way that the trade tables work, allow various DMs to influence the final price that the criminal gets for the loot.

An extensive equipment section, featuring a variety of clever little gadgets, leads into the starship section which features 11 ship designs, with floor plans, for pirates, belters and scavengers, their prey, and those who seek to bring down the villains.

Small sections on Belt mining, odd jobs for Drifters, Scavengers, gambling and con games, and Barbarians round out the book.

When I started to write this review, I must confess that I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic. But going back through the book again, I began to realise that there were quite a lot of very good ideas in here. Little things, like how much a pirate might make from a looted ship, or how to work out a criminal’s standing within an Organised Crime Group and what level of support that organisation might consider granting to that member, are just so useful when the GM is trying to be consistent, yet provide a challenge without stacking the deck against the player.

I do find some of the career path subdivisions baffling in their terminology and wonder if the writers have got themselves locked into a template that doesn’t always quite fit. Though having said that, the career path names can sometimes be quite evocative. And once you start thinking in that direction, they can be a good aid in working out the psychological worldview of the character.

Over all, I think Scoundrel is a good book, and one I intend to buy in hard copy when the opportunity presents itself.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Accidents in Astrogation – Miazan Subsector #2

Vargr holding off Outrim Alliance forces, Tonivar/Cabria - image from SJG GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 1Miazan Subsector, as an Imperial political entity, is slowly evaporating. Over 80% of the subsector’s population is located in the Kamperelian Cluster and has been effectively lost to the Imperium since the end of the Rivokul War in 1033. The Cabria Subsector systems of Lo Taisang and Tonivar, long attached to the Duchy of Miazan, were settled by demobilised Vargr mercenary clans and while these populations bravely resisted both Outrim Alliance and Kalar-Wi aggression over the last century, their total population still numbers just slightly over a million sophonts. While this is often enough to slow down small numbers of raiders, their low Tech Levels (TL 9 and 8 respectively) and poor port facilities preclude the long term stationing of more effective Naval elements in-system.

Within Miazan Subsector proper, Nakaya, Exxilon and Miazan systems support the bulk of the Imperial population – 6 billion sophonts in the relatively isolated low-tech Nakaya system, 5 billion sophonts in the Miazan system, and another half billion in Exxilon system. Of the three High Population systems, Miazan maintains a Tech Level of 12, while Exxilon has a Tech Level of 9. Nakaya lags well behind the times with a Tech Level of 7. The Tech Level D worlds of the subsector, Golus and Janda, have high tech research or production facilities with very small populations.

In the two decades since the end of the 4th Outrim War in 1085, the Miazan Subsector Dukes have had to cope with a shift of Sector political power away from the Outrim Frontier; the growing threat of the Kamperelian Republic squarely across Imperial supply lines; and the unification and growth in power of the Hunt of Rronurl, a Vargr polity of some six to eight worlds lapping around the Spin/Rimward end of the Miazan Subsector. With only the Naval Bases at Miazan and the fortress world of Celephais, the Miazan Subsector Navy has recovered slowly from losses suffered during the 4th Outrim War and replacement units have been restricted to Miazan’s Tech Level 12 Naval Yards. Falling behind in numbers, and loosing the technological edge that the Imperium has traditionally enjoyed, military planners on the Ducal staff are experiencing sleepless nights as they await deployment decisions at the Sector level.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Accidents in Astrogation – Miazan Subsector #1

Miazan Subsector
Lying Rimward of Gamelea Subsector, Miazan Subsector contains two stellar constellations and a small scattering of stars along the edge of the Rimward Deep. The Miazan Main runs Rimward along the Spinward edge of the Miazan Subsector from the Tonivar Cluster in Cabria Subsector to Hydrot, while the Kamperel Cluster dominates the Coreward centre of the subsector.

Miazan Subsector contains seventeen systems with a total population of 65.6777 billion sophonts. The highest population, A, is at Kamperel, and the highest Tech Level, D, is at Golus and Janda. Twelve of the seventeen systems are members of the Imperium, the three systems of the Kamperelian Cluster are members of the Kamperelian Republic, and the systems of Lithia and Huop are non-aligned.

House Rivokul, loyal retainers of the House Geyukthi Dukes of Miazan, had been Siridar-Barons of Kamperel/Miazan since the middle of the 10th Century. Outrageously corrupt, they mercilessly exploited the enormous population of their small, poor, world. During the 3rd Outrim War (1025 – 1038) the Outrim Alliance smuggled arms to various resistance groups on Kamperel and a popular uprising, known as the Rivokul War, broke out in 1031. After a bitter 18-month struggle, the People’s Justice Army of Kamperel emerged victorious as the dominant rebel faction, House Rivokul’s Mercenary force had been smashed, and all members of House Rivokul had been executed.

By the time the 3rd Outrim War had been concluded in 1038, House Geyukthi was in decline, a new Sector Duke was on the throne, the People’s Justice Army ruled Kamperel with an iron fist, and the Van Zaquerl family was in total control of the People’s Justice Army. Within fifty years, Kamperel had gained control of Ektra and Floranna, the other two systems in the Kamperel Cluster, while relationships with the Imperium continued to sour.

During the 4th Outrim War (1080 – 85), the Kamperelian Republic sided with the Outrim Alliance, effectively paralysing the Miazan Subsector Fleet until the Kalar-Wi Navy smashed the main Outrim Alliance force at the Battle of Anthorann in 1085. Since the war, most trade traffic from Gamelea Subsector has been rerouted via the Kalar-Wi and Tonivar Clusters to avoid Kamperelian space. Relations with Kamperel thawed enough to provide an alternate route during the Kalar-Wi War (1103 – 1105) but most regular shippers still prefer the Kalar-Wi/Tonivar route for Jump-2 ships.

Merchants wishing to avoid Zoni space in Nolgor Subsector favour the route from Celephais via Byer’s Planet and Naltor to Dariak/Gazul, though this route benefits merchants out of Gamelea more than traders from Nolgor Subsector.

Lithia is an non-aligned world that has established strong commercial links with the Imperium through the pharmaceutical industry, while Huop is a non-aligned world that has been essentially settled and developed by three Imperial mega-corporations. It remains vulnerable to incursions by Outrim raiders.

Miazan Subsector is home to two Minor Races; the humanoid Olkathi of the deserts of Golus and the ursoid Purvions of the rain forests of Lithia.

There are three main dialects of Imperial Basic spoken in the Miazan Subsector:
1) Gamelea Imperial Basic: - spoken on Celephais, Byer’s Planet and Naltor.
2) Miazan Imperial Basic: Dialect of Imperial Basic spoken along the Miazan Main, and on Nakaya and Epoch.
3) Kampereli Basic: - Dialect of Miazan Imperial Basic spoken on Kamperel, Ektra and Floranna in Miazan Subsector.

Other languages spoken in the Miazan Subsector include:
Sahsah sai – Main language of the Olkathi Minor Race of Golus/Miazan.
Aerrghvi – Vargr dialect of Gvegh, one of the major Vargr language groups, spoken by the Vargr mercenary clan settled on Lo-Taisang/Cabria and who trade regularly along the Miazan Main.
Igzgal – Vargr dialect spoken by the Vargr mercenary clan settled on Tonivar/Cabria and who trade regularly along the Miazan Main.
Kassuriik: Main language of the Purvion Minor Race of Lithia.