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 précis 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.