Saturday, 30 March 2013

Al-Malik Fiefs

The Al-Malik of FS3 differ little from previous editions. But then they are a House of subtle schemes, strange philosophies, and many contradictions. There are hints that they have had a hand in the recent run of poor luck experienced by House Decados. The attentons of the House have also been directed towards the Hargard and the barbarian House Ramakrishna which they claim as part of their own.

Al-Malik Fiefs
House al-Malik holds four worlds for themselves, although they share ownership of Kordeth with the Merchant League, and the worlds they possess are rich in culture, mystery, and resources.  Every al-Malik family insists they are the ‘true’ and original al-Malik, and of all the Royal Houses al-Malik is the most prone to internal conflicts. This is why House al-Malik is not ruled by a ‘Prince’, for should any al-Malik Duke claim that title it would likely spark a rebellion of his peers. Instead, the al-Malik planetary Dukes elect one among themselves as ‘Duke of Dukes’, who then leads the house till he dies.

Star: Genesis (yellow star)
System: Pecos (0.69AU), Aylon (0.99AU; Diana), Ottawa (4.96AU; Ashilatan), Bunyon (10.24AU; 13 moons), Cronos (17.56AU; 4 moons), Uldra (32.02AU; Koroba), Jumpgate (72.0AU)
Jumps: De Moley, Istakhr, Kordeth, Leminkainen
Capital: Sunval
Resources: minerals, ores, precious metals, forestry
Exports: weapons tech, consumer tech, precious metals, vehicles, spacecraft

Important People
Dutchess Nudara al-Malik (born 4964): Nudara is the governor of Aylon, a confident and independent ruler. She is a skilled economist and administrator, and under the Ukari Rebellion (4998-92) proved herself a great strategist as well, defeating the rebel clans with very limited manpower and resources as the bulk of Aylon’s military was engaged in the Emperor Wars. Rumors state that Nudara is a Third Republican who is secretly creating a private army to back her goals.
Matriarch Bash’ir Vordwed (born 4970): Matriarch Bash’ir is the head of the largest traditional Ukari clan on Aylon (Vordwed) and leader of independent but pro-al-Malik Aylon Allied Clans, having held the post since 5009 when her predecessor, was arrested for consorting with rebellious clans. She lives and rules in the Mwerrid Mokta reservation (Aylon’s largest), with representatives in every Ukari city and major reservation. Matriarch Bash’ir struggles to keep the rebel clans down and she has forged strong ties to Dutchess Nudara and is a vocal supporter for Emperor Alexius I.

Aylon is roughly Urth-sized, with a single moon, Diana, and four oceans dividing the super-continent landmass into regions. Over 70% of the surface is land, and a hot climate gives rise to several great deserts and large areas of tropical vegetation where the weather patterns bring regular rains.
Aylon was colonized by Ukari settlers in 2360 who named it Sada (“Water”). The Ukari colonies initially thrived, but when civil war struck Ukari space in 2478, colonization and colonial support was halted. Aylon was largely abandoned when most settlers returned to other Ukari worlds to fight. At some point in the 2500s, Humans settled on Aylon, calling it El Dorado. Some contact between the two sentient populations occurred, yet so rarely each civilization believed the other a myth. Aylon was where the Prophet first set foot after his vision of the Holy Flame on the now-lost world of Yathrib in 2845, and here he gained his first large following. When the Ukar armada attacked Criticorum in 2855, instigating the Human-Ukari War, an attack on Aylon, supported by the local Ukari population soon followed. The human settlements where attacked from space and on the ground simultaneously, and were forced to surrender. It took humanity over 50 years to recapture Aylon, partly because resources and a will to fight had dwindled by the time Kordeth, Istakhr, Ustar, and Criticorum were won, and partly because the Aylon Ukari fought harder and were more organized than anywhere else. When Aylon was finally liberated, large Ukari reservations were established with many off-world Ukari moved in. House Torenson established themselves on the planet and when the Second Republic fell seized control of the world. A bloody pro-Republican (mostly Ukari) uprising followed from 4077-4116, convincing the Torensons to give Aylon to House Keddah in 4119 (who renamed it Aylon) in return for a military defense alliance. When the Torensons, under House Masseri pressure, declared war on the al-Malik in 4487, the Keddah, bound by alliance, joined. The following year Aylon was conquered by House al-Malik, marking the definitive end of Keddah as a Major House. When the Green Death swept the Known Worlds between 4616-23, Aylon was among the first struck, losing 1/3 of the population. The same century saw a blooming in Husk attacks on Aylon, resulting in the Church backed Husk Crusade of 4677-81. The following centuries saw Aylon stabilize and thriving until the planet was again struck by internal war during the Ukari Rebellion of 4988-92. 
Aylon is well run and thriving, and here even serfs reach comfortable living conditions. Serfs are accorded much greater freedom on Aylon than is the norm of the Phoenix Empire, including the right to bear (registered) arms in Aylon’s dangerous wildernes. Aylon is also unusual for its stance against slavery; in fact, local laws do not recognize the status of slaves instead regarding them as ‘unclaimed’ serfs or even freemen. Legal scholars believe that this anti-slavery tradition is one of the few legacies of House Keddah’s rule. The wide range of trophy beasts attracts big game hunters from all over the Phoenix Empire.
The world has a large population of Ukari over 54 million (roughly 1/10 the number of Humans) living primarily in great reservations. Unlike on Kordeth, the majority of Ukari on Aylon live above ground and regard themselves as “purer” Ukari for dwelling under the stars. There are some tensions between Humans and Ukari, but rarely outside the Ukari reservations. Many, Aylonians share a kinship and respect for the native Ukari. Aylon is a family, and once accepted, you are in, otherwise you are forever agnabee, “outsider”. The local al-Malik has forsaken the Graceful Tongue and regards themselves as more spartan and virtuous than their off-world cousins, whom they consider soft and decadent.

Star: Apollo
System: Budh (0.37AU), Aristotle (0.7AU), Criticorum (1.0AU; Spacestation: Port Karavail, Ardella), Mehmet (1.57AU; Czar, Sultan), Khlebnikov (2.98AU; Chiop), Ellylon (6.11AU; 7 moons), Bhuta (32.37AU), Jumpgate (55.03AU) 
Jumps: Byzantium Secundus, Cadavus, Gwynneth, Kish, Kordeth, Pyre, Shaprut
Capital: Acheon
Resources: ores, forestry, fossil fuels, agriculture
Exports: refined ore, weapons tech, entertainments, industrial chemicals, industrial tech, vehicles, textiles, medical tech, fine arts, politics

Important People
Duke Yusef abn Rahim al-Malik (born 4953): Duke Yusef is the Istakhr-appointed governor of Criticorum, himself an Istakhr branch al-Malik. He is a moderate, preferring to carefully weight all issues, which means he struggles to please either Istakhr or Criticorum. Duke Yusef, being an old friend of Duke Hakim was appointed governor against his own advice, and he would prefer the governor be from the Criticorum branch.

Criticorum is a diverse world, slightly larger than holy Terra, and with a year of 348 days. 64% of its surface is covered in water and the land is dominated by Salamandra, the “mother of continents”, stretching from pole to pole, encompassing regions of conifer forest, deserts, plains, equatorial jungles and mountain chains.
Religious and political groups marginalized by the old Urth power structure established the first colonies on Criticorum. A thousand factions made a new start here from 2521 onwards, and the planet swiftly became a liberal democratic haven for freethinkers, dissidents, and libertines. The people elected representatives, but the Poe’s Rebellion (2708) against unpopular tax increased drove the last governor off-world, and power was seized by the large communications and munitions conglomerate – the Bashshar Corporation. In 2855 humanity made first official contact with the Ur-Ukar as Criticorum was invaded and seized by the aliens. Patriarch Palamedes rallied humanity against the Ukari and when Kordeth was beaten in 2892, the Criticorum Ukari surrendered. Wasting no time the Bashshar Corporation, which by now included the ancestor families of the al-Malik, reasserted itself. When the nobles seized Byzantium Secundus in 4000, much of the Republican government and fleet fled to Criticorum, which remained pro-Republican. For two centuries Republican law and institutions survived, but collapsing economic infrastructure hurled the Criticorum into a planet-wide depression in 4226. Starvation, unknown for a thousand years, caused centuries of wars and political upheaval, and Criticorum was at various times conquered by the Decados, the Li Halan, and the Hawkwoods, before falling back into the hands of squabbling al-Malik masters. In 4827 a semblance of order was restored as an exile from the Istakhr branch, Claudia al-Abbasah al-Malik, arrived from Aragon with house exiles and Hazat mercenaries, and deposed the Criticorum branch rulers. When the Symbiot Wars began in 4900, refugees from the ravaged worlds sought shelter on Criticorum nearly destabilizing and bankrupting the world. When Duke Hakim al-Malik supported Alexius’ bid for power in 4991, Countess Carmetha Decados landed her Stigmata Garrison on Criticorum to seize the politically unstable world, and was welcomed by several nobles of the deposed Criticorum branch. Duke Hakim sent in is army of loyal Ur-Ukar, the Fifth Dark Legion, and for a second time Criticorum fell to the terror of the Ukari, although the Decados commanded Stigmata Garrison was defeated by the aliens in the Battle of Rudaki (4991). 
Criticorum sits within a nexus of Jumproads making it a major commercial hub. Maritime resources and other wildlife are plentiful in the great game reserves in the south and large plankton farms harvest the oceans wealth. In addition, great mineral resources, technological sophistication, and many Merchant League high-tech vehicle and munitions factories makes this one of the most progressive worlds in the Phoenix Empire. Hence, Criticorum is a cosmopolitan center and the capital of Acheon is known by many names, including, Den of Plots, Mother of Veils, and City of Schemes, and it is said that more intrigues hatch here than in the rest of the Empire combined. Criticorum is also home to one of the Yintrai, one of the Cities of Refuge, struck with a plague bomb during the Emperor Wars the city is now quarantined and said to be home to hideous mutants.
Criticorum is the most populous (2.6 billion humans and over 10 million Ukari) and the most unruly of the al-Malik worlds. Here, coin is king and there is no privilege that cannot be acquired or lost by the passing of money (Criticorum churches are rich with the sale of Indulgence). Slavery is legal with the payment of fees and corruption is an established part of society.  Indeed, to be from Criticorum implies a certain political maturity and sophistication, and is home to some of the greatest art and high-culture in the Phoenix Empire.

Star: Shams
System: Hareera (0.24AU), Metarrab (0.47AU; Yehway, Asura), Orroba (0.68AU; Kala), Istakhr (0.98AU; Waha), Dahab (5.31AU; Darma, asteroid debris ring), Harb (9.5AU; 7 moons), Malik (15.11AU; 13 moons), Sifr (32.89AU), Jumpgate (44.0AU)
Jumps: Aylon, Malignatius, Stigmata
Capital: Samarkand
Resources: minerals, precious metals, fossil fuels, agriculture
Exports: minerals, foods, weapons tech, high tech (robotics), spacecraft

Important People
Duke Hakim al-Malik – Eagle of Istakhr (born 4918): Duke Hakim came to power in 4940 and is regarded as a wise ruler, although in politics he is practical rather than visionary. A tolerant man, Hakim accepts most faiths, reaping tax gains from grateful believers that he uses to keep the Universal Church at bay. Hakim was one of the earliest supporters of Alexius’ claim to the Phoenix Throne, despite forces within House al-Malik pushing to make Hakim emperor. Relations soured when Alexius I did not take Sister Theafana al-Malik as his Empress. 
Na-Duke Amir al-Malik (born 4971): Amir is the Duke Hakim’s eldest son, the heir-apparent (“na-Duke”) of the Istakhr throne. He has been given the agricultural fief of Najran to govern, as a way to school the not-so-young dukeling in the art of statecraft. Amir, however, is quite content with delegating his responsibilities and spends his time practicing sports, martial arts, and game hunting, as well as the “mother of hunts” – chasing women. 
Duchess Yusara al-Malik (born 4933): Duchess Yusara rules by her Duke’s side as a loyal extension of his will, overseeing the culture and heritage of the house. She is a great patroness of the arts, sponsoring artists, exhibitions, and performances throughout the al-Malik domain. At the dawn of the Third Kurgan Jihad (4987-94), Duchess Yusara famously declared that, “through the study of an outsider’s artistry, dominance can most efficiently be obtained – and only through the study of one’s domestic esthetics can one ever hope to achieve mastery of the self.”
Archbishop Taraleng – Metropolitan of the Criticorum Metropilae (born 4946): Archbishop Taraleng began life as a serf’s daughter, but rose through the Church hierarchy. As Metropolitan (since 4996) of the Critcorum Metropilae, she oversees Aylon, Criticorum, Istakhr, Shaprut, and Kordeth. Taraleng rules from her homeworld of Istakhr, rather than from the traditional Metropilae seat at Criticorum, but frequently tours her See. She is displeased with Duke Hakim’s liberal attitude in matters of faith. She is a candidate to replace Patriarch Hezekiah, her charisma having won her many allies.

Istakhr is primarily a desert world, with 19% open water and arable land in temperate zones around the poles. The planet is dominated by a very wide equatorial belt of deserts stretching almost to the polar regions. The central Gamid Desert is the largest feature on the surface. 
The history of Istakhr is steeped in the myths of the desert populations – the only constant throughout its turbulent history. First colonized by the Ur-Ukar in 2405, Istakhr was nearly abandoned when the Ukari civil war began in 2478. Humans came to Istakhr in the first half of the 28th century, settler groups heralding from various cultures of the Middle-East and African zones of Urth, who competed for control of the world although none dominated it for long. Trade has always been the queen of Istakhr, and the fabled Istakhr Market dates to early in the 29th century. When the Ur-Ukar returned in 2855 they swiftly conquered the fertile regions of the world, leaving the free men of the desert alone. The Ukari brought in the Bashshar Corporation from conquered Criticorum to develop communications and transportation networks, and when the alien invaders were finally defeated, Istakhr became an economic colony of Criticorum. When the Bashshar Corporation became dominated by House al-Malik, Istakhr gradually became a noble fief. In 4460, Istakhr was conquered by Rahimat al-Malik – Lion of Shaprut, who established the Istakhr branch of House al-Malik. His grandson, Asim al-Malik – Sword of Istakhr, rose with the wealth of the Istakhr Market, making House al-Malik the wealthiest of the Royal Houses. He conquered Aylon from House Keddah in 4488, but perished in 4490 in a failed attempt to conquer Byzantium Secundus and restore the Second Republic. In 4827, the Istakhr branch re-conquered Istakhr as Claudia al-Abassah al-Malik invaded with forces from Aragon. It is her great-grandson, Duke Hakim, who today rules House al-Malik, as Duke of Dukes. 
Politics on Istakhr revolves around one thing – trade. Although the glittering capitol of Samarkand is the heart of Istakhr, the great Istakhr Market surrounding the city is its veins and lungs, the money flowing through it being its heart-blood. Great diamond and gold mines bring further wealth, especially the mines deep in the vast Gamid Desert where water can be obtained only from deep wells. Attacks by desert raiders and outlaws on the caravan traffic moving from waterhole to waterhole, is frequent. Although much farming is done in the north and south, Istakhr is not self-sufficient with food, importing much of what it needs from Shaprut and Aylon. 
On Istakhr, everyone is a merchant, giving its people a reputation as cunning and welcoming. About 225 million humans live here, with the Ukari reservations and ghettoes counting some 4 million. The fantastic wealth of this world has attracted all sorts of people, from the most ambitious to the most unscrupulous. As with the other al-Malik worlds, serfs have greater freedom here than elsewhere, and as on Shaprut, slaves are guaranteed legal representation for free.

Star: Surya
System: Vivasvat (0.4AU), Busiatra (0.85AU), Shaprut (1.23AU; Candra, Rahu), Kanya Kumari Asteroid Belt (3.0-3.21AU), Spacestation: Taket Mar (3.25AU), Prajapati (5.02AU), Kali (13.31AU; 3 moons), Cakra (28.23AU), Fenris (44.23AU), Jumpgate (66.33AU)
Jumps: Criticorum, Kordeth, Stigmata
Capital: Tabriz
Resources: forestry, agriculture, fossil fuels
Exports: textiles, think-machine tech, entertainments, foods, industrial chemicals

Important People
Count Kaldun al-Malik (born 4945): Count Kaldun is the governor of the planet capital – Tabriz, which in effect makes him the planetary governor as well (there is no Duke of Shaprut). However, many local al-Malik nobles rules their fiefs autonomously, Kaldun is a soft-spoken, blind man with a penchant philosophy and higher learning. His daughter, Meriel, acts as his eyes, and he fights a tireless one-man crusade against slavery and under-education. 
Archbishop Saladin (born 4963): The head of the Church on Shaprut, quite powerful in Tabriz, is Archbishop Saladin. It is said he possesses one of the greatest intellects of the Phoenix Empire and he is an expert in botany, music, theology, and geology. Saladin is a strong advocate for space exploration and dreams of converting lost worlds to the Universal Faith.

Shaprut is a world of grassland prairies and rolling steppes punctuated by low mountain ranges. The landmass, covering 60% of the surface, is a single super-continent cut through by three great oceans and smaller seas. Shaprut is tectonically very stable, and the temperature range well in-between the extremes of Urth.
Prior to the coming of man, Shaprut was the playground of the native ungulate Shantor. They practiced their cultures and fought their wars, waiting (according to Church theology) to be uplifted by the reflective teachings of mankind. The date and circumstances of humanity’s discovery of Shaprut has been lost, but human colonization of “Pasupati” was underway in the latter half of the 26th century. For well over a century, the Shantor were regarded as tool-wielding animals, and the effective date for humanity’s first contact with another sentient species is 2700, when scientists discovered that the Shantor windspeech was intelligent. Realizing their labor potential, Humans put Shantor to work in human owned mines. The republic government of Shaprut was overthrown by the Pandava dynasty in 2742. When the Human-Ukari War came to Shaprut (2855) the Shantor were telepathically gauging into rebellion, becoming war-puppets for the Ur-Ukar. The ruling Pandava family rose to defend the world, but the rivaling Ramakrishna family chose this moment to overthrow the preoccupied Pandava dynasty. Balahadra Ramakrishna crowning himself King and astonishingly managing to drive back the Ukari armada in the Miracle of Shaprut (2856) and defeating the Shantor uprising the following year. When the Bashshar Corporation began building its power on Shaprut early in the 35th century, House Ramakrishna opposed them on every step. But, around 3495, the princess Sakuntala Ramakrishna and prince Tahir al-Malik of Criticorum began an illicit affair which resulted in their marriage (3502), and House Ramakrishna’s absorption into House al-Malik. During the Second Republic the al-Malik moved their seat of power to Shaprut, but after the Fall their hold began to diminish. This changed when Rahimat al-Malik – Lion of Shaprut (4332-4465), burst upon the scene in the early 4430s. Rahimat was a charismatic mystic and visionary who won the loyalty of many, including the palace guard of Duke Sorhab al-Malik (4369-4436). With a hired army and his loyal followers, Rahimat usurped the Shaprut throne and declared himself Duke in 4434. He began crushing the other noble houses here (notably House Keddah), chased the Scravers Guild (who controlled the planet’s economy) off-world, and in 4460 re-conquering Istakhr. In 4907, Symbiots made a surprise landing on Shaprut, and although the defense forces with managed to fend off the attack, the fear of Symbiots took deep root. In particular, the human population feared the unruly Shantor population would be infected with Symbiotism. 
Shaprut is the most refined of the al-Malik worlds with fashions held up as a virtue, and with scholarly debates and musical contests the most popular form of entertainment. But the beauty of Shaprut thrives on blood-soaked soil and slaves, and fear of the Shantor cast a shadow of concerns, for the Shantor were here before the humans and some say they will be here after. The resent rediscovery of a sovereign House Ramakrishna on the Vuldrok world of Hargard is also worrying the al-Malik.
350 million humans call Shaprut home, sharing the world with 63 million Shantor and 160,000 other aliens (mostly Obun). Freemen (usually city dwelling scholars and technicians) and slaves are guaranteed all protected free legal representation by surviving Second Republic codes. The Shantor have suffered enslavement and mistreated throughout history, and the majority of the species are restricted to reservations.