Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Look at the Kalar-Wi

I ran a little side game for John and Chris in between sessions of Secrets in Sulphur and we finished the scenario pretty much as I had hoped – a positive result for the players and a nice open end to the story that could lead to later adventures. I also got the chance to explore and expand a little upon background elements of my campaign.

Having a deadline is always good for making me focus, and as the days to the game counted down, and I realised that I still didn’t have any idea what I was going to run for the game, I fought through blind panic and fell back into the creative process I used to use in the 80’s and 90’s.

Essentially, I studied my campaign master map, looking a planet I had never developed beyond the paragraph or so in my subsector note book. While looking at the map, I was also brainstorming for two ideas, as two ideas always seem to make a scenario. The first idea to pop up was “abandoned base” and the second idea was “treasure”, and the planet I hit upon was Tonivar – an Imperial world located in Cabria Subsector, though administered from Miazan/Miazan.

Tonivar is one of two Vargr-populated worlds along the Imperial Border. Settled by personnel from a demobilised Vargr military unit – paid off with planetary holdings - over recent years there has been growing discontent amongst the younger generation, born onworld. After enduring a siege and ground assault during the Kalar-Wi war of 1103 – 1105, the Tonivargr (as they are known) feel that their loyalty to the Imperium has been especially poorly rewarded, in that they are expected to remain as low-prestige miners on an airless world, rather than serving as higher prestige warriors in the service of the Imperium.

With the scenario idea, I also had a more in-depth look at the Kalar-Wi.

The Kalar-Wi

The Kalar-Wi are a humanoid species native to the planet Kalar-Wi/Gamelea and are characterised by blue skin, green hair and a strong martial culture. Following the fall of the Thongaloros Empire, Kalar-Wi was wracked by several centuries of bitter wars as various cultural groups sought to gain planetary, and then system, dominance. By the conclusion of these consolidation wars, which went nuclear at least twice, Kalar-Wi was controlled by the Savouur - Jaasouss Moieties, from the eastern part of the northern hemisphere, under the iron rule of Malathu’kal Sourka Afghar.

The Savouur Moiety is characterised by an aggressive, expansionistic outlook. The moiety Patriarch is titled Afghar which, while usually translated as “Warlord”, has implications of “Tower”, “Defender” and “one who strikes”. Malathu’kal Sourka, the great Warlord of the Savouur and the first Warlord of the Kalar-Wi, remains a popular figure in modern Kalar-Wi society as he embodied the prized Kalar-Wi attributes of courage, boldness, honour and resourcefulness. The annual festival of Puranthea Malathu celebrates his life and achievements and reminds the Kalar-Wi of the attributes they should cultivate in their own lives. The Jaasouss Moiety is characterised by an analytical, diplomatic and manipulative outlook and while the Jaasouss Matriarch’s title of Delhanaghar is usually translated as “Peacelord”, it has implications of “webspinner”, “patient waiter” and “unexpected”. While the attributes of long range planning, patience and persistence are generally agreed to be worth cultivating, Kalar-Wi culture prefers action to passivity. Interestingly, the Peacelord, in Kalar-Wi popular culture, is usually a sinister character who wins in the long game. There is no festival celebrating the life of any of the Jaasouss Peacelords, and most Kalar-Wi would be hard pressed to name even one of the current Peacelord’s predecessors.

The Kalar-Wi gained Jump Drive technology after the conclusion of their planetary Consolidation Wars. It is likely that Mi’yargin or Danshihabi traders passed through the Kalar-Wi system during the early 5th Century, Imperial Reckoning while the Savouur-Jaasouss Moieties were rebuilding their shattered economy and ecosystem and developing their dual rulership. Both the Mi’yargin and the Danshihabi were willing to trade technology with the relatively insular Kalar-Wi to boot-strap the latter to the point where they began to spread out through the Kalar-Wi Cluster.

Initial clashes with the Huiha Esoyatre and then with the Geithurian Republic pushed the Kalar-Wi to Trailing where they soon encountered the advancing Imperium. Sensing the potential power behind the Imperial Scouts and explorers, the Kalar-Wi aligned themselves with first the House Tressuiir and then with the House Juharl-Zarquestuir Dukes of Gamelea Subsector, providing ships and auxiliary ground troops for Ducal campaigns within the Subsector and against the Outrim Alliance during the Outrim Wars.

As the House Juharl-Zarquestuir Subsector Dukes became increasingly lethargic and corrupt, the Kalar-Wi expanded their sphere of influence under a series of aggressive Warlords, occupying Varch in Gamelea Subsector, and Gaidan and Yolurland in Cabria Subsector. It would appear that the long range plans of the Kalar-Wi Peacelords – the preservation of the Kalar-Wi State from destruction by more powerful interstellar polities by aligning themselves with the most powerful local polity; the Imperium and the Gamelea Subsector Dukes in particular – had been modified by a misunderstanding of Imperial politics on the part of the Kalar-Wi Warlords. While staunchly defending their section of the frontier during the 4th Outrim War, and winning the Battle of Anthorann, during the post-Outrim War economic decline in the Rimward Imperial Subsectors the Kalar-Wi felt obliged to step into the power vacuum that began to develop and, through a series of police actions, occupied Rimbaud II and Anthorann in Gamelea Subsector. Growing alarm at the Sector level was met with indifference at the Subsector level until Warlord Vran’kal Youka launched the ill-advised Kalar-Wi War of 1103 – 05.

Held up by fierce local resistance in the Gamelea Cluster, the Kalar-Wi fleet was decisively defeated by Imperial Naval units breaking out of the Naval Base at Gamelea. Reinforced by fleet elements from Gazolan and Nolgor Subsectors, local Imperial forces drove the Kalar-Wi out and took their homeworld, late in 1105.

Warlord Vran’kal Youka and the Savoour leadership had withdrawn to Loa-Wi as Imperial forces penetrated the Kalar-Wi system and it was Peacelord Har’vuun Kalusi and the Jaasouss Oligarchy who signed the surrender documents and welcomed the Imperial garrison. Behind the scenes, members of Duke Adryos Urzov IV of Gamelea’s cabinet were hurriedly blurring details of the surrender to permit the Kalar-Wi leadership to save face amongst their own people. Duke Adryos Urzov’s death in late 1105 allowed these negotiations to be successfully concluded during the accession celebrations for Kolin II Andralistain, his son and successor as Duke of Gamelea. While accused of being in the pockets of the Kalar-Wi, Adryos Urzov’s cabinet ministers were very conscious that, in Realpolitik terms, the Gamelea government stood in need of Kalar-Wi support in the event that the Outrim Alliance should launch a fifth attempt to roll back the Imperial border. While the opportunist land grab of the Kidan system by the Huiha Esoyatre, now renamed Yaithorail by the Huiha, was tolerated as an object lesson to the Kalar-Wi, it was quietly made very clear to the Aslan of the Huiha that any further advances into Kalar-Wi space would not be countenanced by the Imperium.

The Imperial garrison of Kalar-Wi has been steadily reduced since the signing of the peace treaty that officially ended the war. It is estimated that the last Imperial garrison will evacuate Kalar-Wi in 1110 with the last of the system bases closed down in 1111. Kalar-Wi military phratries have started to parade again for the Puranthea Malathu festival and, it is believed, are actively recruiting on Kalar-Wi for the first time since the end of the war. There has also been an increase in the number of Honour Hunters crossing the Imperial border to examine old Kalar-Wi bases and installations. These Honour Hunters, acting for various military phratries, are primarily seeking to locate unit Honour Chests that were lost, abandoned, or captured during the war. To many Kalar-Wi watchers, all this activity indicates a growing confidence amongst Kalar-Wi and the possibility of a resurgent Kalar-Wi State.