Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Hazat Fiefs

A look at the Hazat of FS3. The House of the Talon stands on the brink, their war with the Kurga has draged on for decades, and steadily drained the house's coffers. The house is now heavily indebted to the point where it is having to sell of its hard won territorial gains on Hira to keep going. The recent capitulation of the Chaulki to become a vassel house has brought some reprieve but the Hazat are already mortgaging the future against Chauki assets.

The Universal Church continues to debate the necessity of  a crusade against the Kurga, all the while the Hazat warmachine is being slowly ground down by attrition.

The Hazat warmachine was one of the big problems of the setting. Consider just how powerful the Hazat must have been at the end of the Emperor Wars. At that point they had the military force to hold back the Kurga, and fight Alexius (and all the capitulated Royal Houses sworn to the Emperor) to a standstill, so that Alexius had no option but to bring them to the negotiating table to broker a political settlement.

That is a lot of military force! And that is expensive. Having that much military capability presented a big problem for the setting and believability. Given the disposition of the Kurgan military, the question kept coming back... why, when the Hazat were able to direct their full military assets at Hira, had it not fallen? Frankly there was no good reason that it hadn't. But had it fallen it would compromise the setting in a couple of distinct ways, so we needed to come up with a reason why the war was still on going. Attrition and over stretched funding seemed the only way to explain why the Hazat had not invaded and taken several Kurgan worlds... so here we are.



Hazat Fiefs
At one point the Hazat commanded sufficient military might to hold its ground against the combined forces of the four other Royal Houses and the Emperor, while simultaneously waging a border-war against the Kurga Caliphate! Hazat space used to rank smallest among the Royal House domains, but after the Emperor Wars they acquired both Hira and Iver. But the decades of war have emptied the Hazat coffers, and the house now owes considerable debt to the Reeves Guild.

Aragon
Star: Sonro (red star)
System: Hermes (0.37AU), Aragon (0.99AU; Castile), Teruel (1.37AU), Jalapa (3.41AU; Smither, Lost Sign, Ebola), Alvarado (6.85AU, Crane, Everlost), Jumpgate (57.0AU)
Jumps: Byzantium Secundus, Leagueheim, Vera Cruz
Capital: Castle Furias
Resources: minerals, fossil fuels
Exports: industrial tech, weapons tech, consumer tech, vehicles, politics

Important People
Prince Juan Jacobi Nelson Eduardo de Aragon (born 4927): Prince Juan is the very symbol of Hazat unity, for with him the house’s greatest and most fiercely rivaling families, the Eduardo and Justus branches, are united in blood. Although a fierce socialite, politician and a master war leader, many believe the only way Prince Juan can hope to maintain the unity of his house is to keep it in a state of perpetual war with an outside force. If there was ever to be a lasting peace the House would surly splinter and create a civil war.
Archbishop Jordano – Metropolitan of the Aragon Metropilae (born 4951): Archbishop Jordano was ordained as Bishop (4983) and then Archbishop (4990) in quick succession as priests of standing became a short supply during the Emperor Wars. In 4998, he was surprisingly appointed the position as Metropolitan of the Aragon Metropolae, the youngest in over five centuries, although he has so far offered no favoritism towards the Hazat. The Aragon Metropilae encompass Aragon, Hira (claimed), Sutek, Vera Cruz, and Madoc (contested by the Kish Metropilae). He is strictly Orthodox, although his stark conservatism garnets him supporters among the Temple Avesti sect, and even conservative Eskatonics, yet his candidature for the Patriarchal Throne is thought to be weak. Metropolitan Jordano is one of Emperor Alexius I’s fiercest opponents, accusing him of perpetuating an image as a divine ruler.

Overview:
Aragon is a temperate world with more than 85% of the surface is covered by water. The landmass divides into several minor island continent and three main continents, the largest and most important being Quechua. The polar regions are frozen over, but elsewhere the temperature is pleasant. From space it looks like a multihued ball, the lush clouds giving it a marble appearance.
Aragon was first visited by humans in 2413 and settled by the agribusiness conglomerate TDA. TDA sold off it considerable holdings on Urth to buy huge tacks of land on Aragon and Vera Cruz, where they established a vast plantations. TDA maximized its profits in any way it could and soon came to be hated by elements of its labor force. The Chauki family, who had spread to Aragon from Vera Cruz, was the most successful group to oppose the TDA. As the Sathra Revolt raged (2490-2500), the Chaukis seized the opportunity while TDA was preoccupied with the revolution and interstellar politics. Through bribery and cajoling they won the loyalty of the TDA security forces, led by one Emanuel Primitivo Hazat. This did not bring immediate victory of the Chaukis, for TDA could afford mercenaries, but TDA did lose much face and favor as it was unable to support the Byzantium Secundus and Sutek against the Sathraists. When the Chauki family announced its noble lineage in 2553, they became a romantic alternative to the oppressive TDA, and seized Aragon in 2589. House Chauki’s armed forces were named “the Hazat” in honor of Emanuel Primitivo Hazat, and this sub-branch spread Chauki rule to Sutek and Hira. During the Second Republic, friction festered between House Chauki and its Hazat military as the former wanted to consolidate its gains while the latter desired conquest. In 3977 House Chauki took steps to disarm its military, claiming that the Republic offered all the protection needed and any group bearing arms were agents of instability. The Hazat answered by announcing that House Chauki had conspired to hide the fact that Emanuel Primitivo Hazat had been a descendant of King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1883-1931). The new House Hazat quickly overthrew their masters, beginning a purge of Chauki influences that was nothing less than genocide. Almost overnight, Aragon went from being a staunch supporter of the Second Republic to one of its fiercest opponents and allied with the Universal Church. For the next several centuries, Aragon saw regular conflict as the Hazat battled upstart minor houses, corporations left over from the Second Republic, barbarian raids, and rival houses. Internal feuds were also frequent. Aragon suffered relatively little during the Emperor Wars, although it had to fight off invading forces from houses Hawkwood, al-Malik, and Li Halan at various times. 
Aragon, with its shining spires, ancient castles, and a history brimming with heroic warriors, is the crown jewel of the Hazat. Less known is the wretched slums of unemployed serf legionnaires, the violent desert nomads, and the constant feuds between branches of the Hazat. Being the main artery between Byzantium Secundus and Leagueheim, the coffers of Aragon regularly swell with trade tariffs only to be quickly emptied by palace constructions and the Kurgan conflict. Young Hazat compete for the right to study at the Aragon Military Academy and graduate to prestigious positions in the military. 
While nobles and merchants are rich with trade the serfs live in squalor. Those resorting to crime are routinely conscripted into military service to work off their sentence. During the Emperor Wars, countless serfs were called away to serve in the armed forces and those who returned often found their livelihoods taken over by others. Now huge slums of unemployed serf veterans surround many of Aragon’s factories. Recent attempts to bring the slums under control have largely failed as the nobles are unwilling to divert the necessary wealth away from the war effort or their own projects. Well over a billion people live on Aragon, and its moon Castile is home to the largest Xanthippe Moonhaven with a population of 500,000.

Vera Cruz
Star: Saul (pale yellow star)
System: Puebla (0.94AU), Vera Cruz (1.3AU), Albemarle (1.9AU), Pharis (15.3AU; Hanbar, Squire Bourbon), Sargasso Belt (17.25-21.36AU), Katara (36.1AU), Jumpgate (37.1AU)
Jumps: Sutek, Aragon, Hira
Capital: Los Aztecha
Resources: agriculture
Exports: foods, textiles, consumer tech

Important People
Duke Armando Palimino Bursandra de Vera Cruz (born 4951): Duke Armando is head of the Bursandra branch of House Hazat and planetary Duke of Vera Cruz. He is a paranoid man, worrying about Kurgan assassins, Decados spies, rebellious Dervish saboteurs, Pandoran infiltrators, Imperial agents, and more, all with good reason. He is also pious, finding solace in scripture, but not with the Universal Church, who’s political agendas worries him. A vocal opponent of Emperor Alexius I, Armando believes the Emperor Wars have not end, but rather transformed into a cold war, with Alexius I seeking to absorb the Hazat realm.

Overview:
Vera Cruz, terraformed by Doramos the Worldshaper, is one of the most beautiful planets known. One massive continent dominates the western hemisphere while two smaller ones occupy the eastern. The temperature is similar to Urth (they were higher before the sun began to fade) and just under 49% of the surface is water. The equatorial regions sports dark impenetrable jungles, with thick forests spreading both north and south, and mountains are found throughout. 
Vera Cruz was discovered by Sathraist explorers shortly after Sathra’s Boon (Sutek). The first major settler efforts came around 2310, by political refugees, downtrodden zaibatsu employees, and South American exiles fleeing a failed revolution. Around the same time, the agribusiness conglomerate TDA moved in as well, leading to conflicts over land rights. Unlike on Aragon, the Vera Cruz TDA subverted the population through negotiations and reform rather than violence. Political opposition to TDA was commonplace, however, and one opposition group was the family that became House Chauki. Vera Cruz was a haven for Sathraists, and the Sathra Revolt (2490-2500) left the world in political and economic chaos. The Chaukis rebelled against TDA at this time, attacking the conglomerate both from outside and within as some Chaukis had risen to positions of power within TDA. They quickly seized all TDA land and assets, before declaring themselves a noble house (2553). Vera Cruz remained stable throughout the Diaspora and most of the Second Republic, until the Hazat rebelled against House Chauki (3977). Vera Cruz was again afflicted with war in 4353, when the young League of Merchants, formed on Leagueheim the year before, attacked Hazat worlds in a show of strength. The terrible war was eventually defused by Patriarch Jacob I’s (patriarch between 4355-4377) Doctrine of the Privilege of Martyrs (4357). In the aftermath of this Vera Cruz Merchant War (4353-4357), the Bursandra branch of the Hazat took advantage of a planet in disarray and seized most of the land. In-house conflict raged with the League growing rich by catering to all sides, until the three leading Hazat branches made peace in 4364. Sutek was awarded to the Castenda branch, Aragon to the Justus branch, and the Brusandra branch kept Vera Cruz. The next major conflict came to Vera Cruz from outside with the Kurgan’s First Jihad in 4506. The Kurgan Jihad consolidated the Hazat and when Vladimir Alecto united the Known Worlds in the 4540s, the tide of battle turned. In 4547, Vera Cruz forces destroyed half of the Kurgan fleet in the Battle of the Sargasso Belt. From then on the First Jihad was winding down and in 4559 the Kurgans withdrew and closed the Hira Jumpgate. The Kurgans returned to Vera Cruz with the Second Jihad (4801-4899), eventually withdrawing again after almost a century of war. Vera Cruz played a critical role in the Emperor Wars by supplying the Hazat war effort with soldiers and foodstuffs, as well as the top-secret Dervish psychic legionaries (first fielded in 4979). But in 4987, the Kurgans returned with the Third Jihad, forcing House Hazat to divide its resources and attention against its Emperor Wars enemies and the Caliphate. This time around the Hazat forces proved more than a match for the Kurgans and the conflict moved from Vera Cruz to Hira, where the Third Jihad still rage.
Vera Cruz is an agricultural world exporting foodstuffs throughout Hazat space. While it has its share of industry, the planet is largely undeveloped. The Bursandra branch, with strong ties to the Universal Church rules the planet. Several groups of disbanded dervishes are believed to operate here, training recruits and bidding their time. Vera Cruz is a staging area for attacks against the Caliphate and has suffered a growing number of raids in return. With the Kurgan space superiority in the Hira system, many now fear a massive offensive into the Known Worlds, and Vera Cruz is the doorway through which they must pass. Rumors claim Kurgan raiders have established forward bases in the Sargasso asteroid belt.
The Bursandra branch customs and culture is less militaristic than the rest of the Hazat. Still, the family and their world has been somewhat brutalized by the Kurgan wars. A recent census placed the Vera Cruz population at 750 million humans.

Hira
Star: Yasi
System: Falai (0.68AU), Hira (0.96AU; Ulalumn), Korbuchuk (14.0AU; 25 moons), Eslemiel (31.01AU; ice crystal rings), Mirzabah (37.03AU), Jumpgate (38.0AU)
Jumps: Khayyam (warning: Kurga Caliphate world), Vera Cruz
Capital: Fort Omala (Hazat), Dal Jimbalif (Kurgan)
Resources: Contraband, relics
Exports: Kurgan cultural objects, high tech (cybernetics)

Important People
Duke Bellosyte Armane Korlat Spetara Rolas de Hira (born 4954): Duke Bellosyte is one of the most decorated soldiers of the Hazat. Although initially trained as an infantry leader, Bellosyte has served on almost every type of battlefield imagined; yet his specialty is aerial and orbital warfare, traits he put to good use during the Siege of Omala (4987) and the decisive Siege of Jericho (4994). Bellosyte was awarded the Duchy of Hira for his valor and success in the Emperor Wars and against the Kurgans. His appointment nearly lead to a civil war with the local Justus rulers of Andalus, but Duke Bellosyte has managed to maintained order through his force of character, his veteran troops and fightercraft force turned planetary police force.

Overview:
Hira’s main geographical feature, spanning three of the planet’s five continents, is its equatorial rainforest. It is a naturally Urthlike planet, of higher average temperatures and humidity and with water covering close to 90% of the surface. The lack of heavy industry means its atmosphere is cleaner than most. The Hira Jumpgate has closed and reopened more than any other in recorded history, and every Kurgan Jihad into the Known Worlds has come through this Jumpgate. The Simurgh Nebula (named after a mythical bird), visible from both Hira and Irem (a Caliphate world), is central to the Kurga pilgrimage tradition.
Hira was discovered in the final days of the First Republic and settled by an alliance of technophiles in the early Diaspora. A techno-utopia had been established when the comet Mirzabah, heralding from the system’s dirty-snowball planet of the same name, slammed into the Jumpgate in 2650, and shut it down. Several small empires rose and fell over the centuries, and when the Jumpgate reopened in the early days of the Second Republic, Hira had slid into primitivism. House Chauki, made efforts to rebuild Hira, and bit by bit brought the world into its fold. After the Hazat uprising of 3977, but before the Hazat could consolidate the former Chauki worlds, Hira fell to an unknown power (the Kurgans) who blasted through the system defense and, in 3997, closed the Hira Jumpgate. In 4327 the Jumpgate reopened, and the Justus branch of the Hazat mounted an expedition but was trapped on the Caliphate world when the Jumpgate closed again within a year. The Justus nobles managed to consolidate the fractured Hazat interests on Hira, creating the Hazat realm of Andalus, and allied with minor House Shelit, the remnants of the technophiles who once ruled. During the Emperor Wars, the Caliphate again tried to seize Hira, but the Andalus-Shelit alliance kept them at bay. Their finest hour was the Siege of Omala (4987) when Baronet Teikorc de Andalusa de Justus wrestled the Omala spaceport-fortress from the Kurgans. When the Emperor Wars ended in 4995, legions of Hazat veterans embarked for Hira, dying in scores but managing to force the Caliphate back. By the end of 5009, the Hazat forces had reduced the Kurgans lands to roughly the northern half of Daanyu, and the Hwllayt Archipelago to its east. But at the dawn of 5010, the Kurgans returned with a massive armada to secure space superiority, effectively cutting off the Hazat supply lines. The Kurgan armada has so far managed to maintain its blockade, and the demand for a crusade against the Caliphate is once more ringing out across Hazat space and beyond.
Hira is still a world at war, as Kurgan fanatics fighting to reclaim the planet that is the starting point of their interstellar pilgrimage route. On Hira the pilgrims travel to the Mongke Yildiz Observatory in the Hwllayt Archipelago to watch the faint Simurgh nebula through an ancient observatory. Then the pilgrims travel to several other Kurgan worlds, before arriving through the Irem Jumpgate where the Simurgh Nebula is visible in full.
Hira culture is a patchwork of fragments of the original Diasporan colonies, Justus and Shelit society, and Kurgan culture. The Kurgan heretical religion, El-Diin, is worshiped in many corners of the world, although Urth Orthodoxy is often observed alongside it. A rough estimate places the population at about 400 million people, divided into near equal portions of Kurgans, Hazat colonists and forces, Hazat loyal natives (House Shelit etc.), and other independent communities.

Iver
Star: Lest (blue-white star)
System: Felix (0.35AU), Iver (1.1AU; Dale), Falstaff (4.3AU; Orson), Dastard (7.7AU), Barsoma (22.0AU, 43 moons), Gallup (38.0AU; 22 moons), Zestil (42.2AU; Glam), Jumpgate (63.5AU)
Jumps: Pandemonium
Capital: Chaido
Resources: Minerals, gemstones, Second Republic tech caches, aquaculture
Exports: Wine, crafts, jewelry

Important People
Duke Arturo Chauki (born 4948): As Duke of House Chauki, Arturo’s rule is difficult. He must juggle the many rivaling conclaves and groups of the Iver senate and collaborate with the hated Hazat to avoid extinction. A botched assassination attempt in 4995 is widely believed to have been a Hazat ploy to cripple House Chauki from the top. Today his authority is mostly limited to restricting Hazat and Church meddling in internal Iver affairs, and keeping out of Imperial politics as much as possible.
Princeps Leandro Chauki, Earl of Ivaner (born 4973): Princeps Leandro is the heir-apparent of the planetary Duchy and currently rules the continent of Ivaner as Earl (technically subordinated to “governor” Paulo). The rank of princeps is unique to Iver, denoting that Leandro is both Crown Prince of House Chauki and the informal leader and principal speaker of the senate. Princeps Leandro is an uncharacteristically hands-on crown prince, rarely delegating work to his advisors and staff. In 4999 he had secret talks with the Emperor and is whispered to be affiliated with the Imperial Eye. In 5006, he orchestrated a friendly get-together with his father’s religious and political adversaries and despite the discussions being fruitless, Leandro earned universal recognition for his efforts. 
Marquis Paulo Santiago Eduardo de Aragon (born 4965): When House Chauki surrendered Iver to the Hazat in 5007, it was Marquis Paulo de Aragon, cousin of Prince Juan, who was sent as Hazat representative to Iver. Although officially attached to Duke Arturo as an advisor, Marquis Paulo is clearly the unofficial the governor of Iver and behaves much like a planetary Duke. “Mr. Hazat” has gathered a following among ambitious and ‘progressively minded’ young senators and Chauki nobles who sees him as the door to the riches and power of the Phoenix Empire. Others fiercely oppose, and there have been attempts on his life.

Overview:
Iver has four temperate continents and a small island-continent, the biggest and most populous continent being Ivaner. Oceans, rich in sea-life, cover 79% of the surface.
As with many worlds the history of Iver’s discovery has been lost. It has always been a backwater world, resourceful enough to be self-sustaining but not so rich it draws much attention. It was a world of independent and isolated cultural conclaves some religious or political fringe groups and others alien cultures (predominantly Etyri, Hironem, and Shantor). Iver intentionally closed its Jumpgate (4005), escaping the chaos of the Fall. The Jumpgate spontaneously reopened in 4110, and Iver attracted the attention of nobles, the League and the Universal Church alike. Iver became a hotbed for Incarnatism, and the Patriarch desperately sought to bring them to heel. Iveritins saw the writing on the wall and in 4201 a joint Incarnate-Chauki effort managed to re-sealed the Iver Jumpgate, two years before Incarnate-Universal Church relations came to a head. During the New Dark Ages, the various political and religious enclaves grew even more isolated, often warring against one another, until House Chauki, backed by the Incarnate organization, gradually seized control as peacekeepers of Iver. In 4994, Merchant League explorers reached Iver from Pandemonium, and found a thriving world with features that were guaranteed to cause concern in the Phoenix Empire: a thriving Chauki lineage; an elected world senate; an Incarnate-dominated religious institution; and aliens living free. Iver was claimed by major factions, including: Emperor Alexius who by Imperial law owns all re-discovered worlds; Merchant League who discovered the world; House Decados, from who’s corner of space Iver was rediscovered; the Universal Church, who felt a responsibility to Ivaritian souls; and House Hazat, the cousins of the Chaukis. House Chauki petitioned to be recognized by the Emperor, but this was denied when the Universal Church produced evidence for the native church’s heresy. Facing financial ruin, House Chauki entered negotiations with the Hazat (5007), relinquishing their claims to all ancestral lands on Hazat worlds in return for patronage and protection. 
Iver has been quarantined by a Universal Church Fleet for over a decade, although the fleet has steadily dwindled as vessels were required else-where. Today Iver belongs to House Hazat and through Hazat and Universal Church pressure the native Iver church has officially converted to the Urth Orthodoxy. This caused many domestic problems on Iver, but secured protection from other noble houses (predominantly House Decados). Also, houses Li Halan and Hawkwood, happy to see Iver out of House Decados’ reach, also supports the new order, while the League support the Hazat in return for exclusive out-of-house trading rights on Iver. And Emperor Alexius escaped criticism by allowing another faction to have the world, and drove a wedge between the Decados and their former allies the Hazat in the process.
While the entire Iver population, counting some 220 million humans and 2 million aliens, are now ostensibly serfs of House Hazat, independence runs strong in the Iverites’ blood. Most of the world composes of independent city-states, remnants of older cultural enclaves, and Ivarites behave like freemen. While officially converted to Urth Orthodoxy, the vast majority continue to worship as before, local priests doning new garbs and starting sermons with a praise of the Patriarch and the Universal Church, before preaching the Incarnate faith whose tenets can be summarized as, belief in: reincarnation; personal responsibility for one’s salvation; sins can be worked off through hard toil; aliens partake equally in the Pancreator’s grace; mysticism and theurgy is distrusted (although some practical theurgy is employed).

Sutek
Star: Luxor (yellow-orange star)
System: Mercury II (0.5AU), Dominey (0.77AU; Ghost, Parish), Cregstar (0.89AU), Sutek (1.13AU; Khonsu, Oculus), Yharit (5.07AU), Kastaga (11.59AU), Twenty-Something (34.3AU, Spacestation: Yeo’s Hold, 23 moons), Exelon (74.0AU), Jumpgate (74.12AU)
Jumps: Byzantium Secundus, Vera Cruz, Holy Terra, Pandora (warning: Barbarian world), Khayyam (warning: Barbarian world, no jumpkeys known to exist)
Capital: Djehut
Resources: agriculture, ancient ruins, tourism
Exports: wines, foods, industrial tech, consumer tech, laborers

Important People
Duchess Elena Cindias Victoriana Castenda de Sutek (born 4971): As Duchess of Sutek and leader of the Castenda branch of House Hazat, Elena has her work cut out for her. Elena used to spend almost as much time in Decados space as on Sutek, and she’s a close ally of Duchess Salandra. Since Alexius’ peace of 4995 however, she has courted the Church at the expense of House Decados, possibly to control Sutek’s priests. Although not a warrior (a disadvantage in many Hazat courts), Duchess Elena is a very successful diplomat and she might be able to unify the Castenda branch. Although Sutek was opposed to Alexius I’s peace, Duchess Elena is neutral to the Emperor, demanding continuous rewards in return for continued loyalty.

Overview:
The super-continent, Pleroma, its landscape ranging from heavy tundra in the north to jungle in the south, dominates Sutek and some 53% of the surface is covered in water. Large deserts cut through the central parts of Pleroma, and much of the remaining land is slowly turning to dust after generations of over farming. The planet has also grown considerably cooler since its sun began fading. 
The Urth Jumpgate was discovered in 2305 and before the year was out the scientists had activated it and sent a manned exploration team through. On the other side was a habitable world, which they called Sathra’s Boon, the first interstellar world colonized by mankind. Colonization began with high hopes but soon turned to fear and greed as local diseases swept through the colonies and ethics were abandoned for zaibatsu profits. When the Sathra Revolt (2490-2500) had been crushed, an effort to rebuild Sathra’s Boon followed and the planet was renamed Sutek. As the First Republic crumbled, more and more people left the zaibatsu-constructed cities for native dwelling to escape corporate abuse. Although a modest development in its time, the Gjarti religion was founded here in 2613 by the biologist and farmer Edgar Vollmak. In 3461, House Chauki claimed the world, gaining popular support by swearing to protect the planet from the sathraist threat, and sathraism was soon crippled, only to be replaced by Anunnaki worshiping paganism. During the Second Republic, Sutek prospered from its proximity to both Holy Terra and Byzantium Secundus, with commercial interests replacing the aristocracies. Sutek became a key world for deal making and stock market investment, and as corporation gobbled up corporation, lawyers and financiers flocked to the planet. The planet’s elite lived in unparalleled wealth while the average citizen found it difficult to hold the most basic of jobs. When the Second Republic welfare system collapsed, Sutek was left in turmoil and famine gripped the planet. The rich farms of the elite were protected against the mobs, and feudalism was quickly established. During the Emperor Wars, Sutek had a prominent role in the Hazat war-machine, providing a record one million levies in 4953 and functioning as the staging ground for both the 4979 Hazat sacking of Byzantium Secundus and the 4994 Hazat-Decados Siege of Jericho. In 4993, in an attempt to thwart the inevitable Hazat push for Byzantium Secundus, an immense Muster force, supported by Hawkwood and al-Malik troops, invaded Sutek in what was later termed the Sutek Contendings. This ended with a cease-fire shortly after the Siege of Jericho, and many Sutek nobles were displeased with the “cowardly” surrender by Aragon on their behalf, leading to a short-lived mutiny of the Castendas. 
Sutek is a problem world for Duke Juan for the Castenda branch is fiercely independent and has tried many times to break away from the Hazat.  The world is closely tied to House Decados and much of the Mantis’ politics are mirrored on Sutek. The Universal Church focus strongly on Sutek as the world has been a hotbed for heresy throughout human interstellar history. Finally, the Scravers and Charioteers guilds hold much sway in the larger cities. 
Sutek has some 1.3 billion humans. The majority of Sutek’s population is agrarian or industry serfs, scraping by on meager salaries while their masters invest the planet’s surplus in politics, war, and estates for themselves. The Universal Church commands many pious souls here, but heresies abound. The Castenda nobles emulate much of House Decados culture and moral.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Cyber Pirates of Pandora

Originally developed for Prisoners & Exiles, the cyber pirates concept was intended to chart the change in Pandor from a 'passive' place to visit to an 'active' setting reach out to touch the surrounding systems. By the time of FS3, the cyber pirates were becoming a major menace. So much so that the Imperial Navy had mounted a blockade of the Jumpgate.



Cyber Pirates of Pandora 
A new threat suddenly emerged on the horizon of the Phoenix Empire in 4999, again on House Hazat’s borders. With the discovery of the Lost World of Pandora, a high tech cyborg pirate civilization has immerged as a threat to the Phoenix Empire. So far, the Pandoran pirate fleet has been kept at bay by an Imperial blockade, but many feel it is only a matter of time before the cyber pirates fall upon Sutek and beyond.

History of Pandora
Since the time of the Diaspora, the planet has remained isolated from most of the Jumpweb, creating a backwater that harbors black-market medical clinics, fanatic think machine enthusiasts and a culture that consider technology an integral part of life. Pandora was among those of the First Republic systems to risk challenging the zaibatsu overlords on Old Urth. The planet’s wealth depended on high-tech work camps and sweatshops, hellholes where citizens worked long hours in exchange for a meager existence. Their products were expensive, but building material, local foodstuffs and labor were all cheaply available. Life was cheap, too – factory workers had few rights, and local laws existed mainly to protect company interests and property. When local company leaders decided their colony could be self-sufficient without paying taxes and tariffs to their financial masters, Pandora’s corporate offices underwent drastic downsizing. A revolution of impoverished jobless Pandorans raided local corporate headquarters across the globe, looting and setting them aflame. However, the elite holding all the cards on technology, resources and wealth quickly put down the revolution.
Life was hard and brutal, and a new system of management emerged to run the world, as local technocrats replaced off-world overlords. The next generation of economic elite wanted to make sure another revolution wouldn’t depose them, and a new managerial cast arose that safeguarded its tech, keeping it away from the masses. The worker casts were educated just enough to slave away for a lifetime. The Pandoran elite acquired fantastic wealth as local wares were cheaply produced but sold to a high price, and no off-world taxation to eat away profits. In addition, Pandora became a trade hub as outsider merchants flocked to the planet that was beyond the trade laws and taxes of the First Republic. Through its wealth and economic sophistication alone did Pandora manage to keep the zaibatsu at bay, and anything was available on Pandora – for a price. 
With trade and manufacturing remaining unrestricted by legal systems and general ethics, Pandora quickly developed from a trade free-zone into a black-market world. Transhumanism thrived on Pandora, and the world became cybertech haven where wealthy First Republican citizens, and later Diasporan aristocrats, could come to be augmented in whichever way they wanted – no questions asked and no eyebrows raised. With the rise of the Second Republic, Pandora saw an increase in the pressure for returning the world to the central government, and the Pandorean elite grew steadily more xenophobic and paranoid. Pandora’s culture became increasingly violent and anarchistic, and the final act of rebellion involved sabotage of the system’s Jumpgate. The last remnants of the managerial cast shut it down in a desperate attempt to evade the increasing control and influence of the Second Republic. With no need of Jump Engines the technical know how to maintain and produce these complicated pieces of machinery were quickly lost, their parts scavenged for other things, effectively stranding the Pandorans in their system. 
The citizens of Pandora never heard of the Fall, nor would they have much cared. By then, Pandora had become an isolated dystopia, a high-tech hellhole where wealthy technocrats had desperately attempted to keep order within their bubble economy, but ultimately failed. The economic elite escaped off-world, although they could not travel beyond the Jumpgate and instead set up distant colonies on other bodies in the Pandoran system. The masses left behind were almost starving, but still with access to left-behind technology and resources, managed to scrap by in paranoid well-armed city states and settlements.

Discovery by the Phoenix Empire
The Pandora Lost World was rediscovered in 4999 when the local Jumpgate had regenerated enough to function and the Jumproad to Sutek spontaneously opened just as Imperial agents were examining the Sutek Jumpgate. The first survey by Questing Knights indicated that it was a backwater planet with some surviving relic tech located in and around the remaining city-states. The discovery was kept a secret for four years, until Hazat spies publically announced the world in 5003 right under the Phoenix Company’s nose.
First contact did not go as expected as the local populace initially cowered in fear of the new arrivals when the contact team landed near an outlying settlement. However, the peasants did not hide from the visitors, but from the cyber-aristocracy which the arrivals were sure to draw out. The first cyber gang to reach the settlement where the knights had landed massacred the Phoenix Empire envoys where they stood and took their gear as loot. The possession of a starship, even though one no-one knew how to fly it, sparked a series of nomad wars in the Pandoran wastes as cyber gangs battled for cannibalization rights. The ship was quickly stripped of almost everything of any value, but more importantly the Pandoran city-states now knew that visitors had arrived and would likely return with thoughts of plunder and conquest.
Over a period of five years several more ships were captured, sometimes with the crew taken alive and interrogated. The vessels were subjected to Pandoran scrutiny as they were meticulously disassembled and reverse engineered, finally giving the Pandoran people access to space. The acquisition of space technology began an era of intense conflict as each city-state tried to steal what knowledge it could form its neighbors. A civil war was about to ignite on Pandora when an unidentified hacker freed the most of the information hoarded by the competing states. This averted full-scale world war but gave anyone with the base technology and sufficient resources the ability to build their own starships. 
Reaching out from their world Pandoran pirates took their conflict into orbit and then in to the void beyond. It was only a matter of time before they reached the decaying Elysian orbitals, once the strongholds of the wealthiest tech-aristocrat families who fled Pandora in the early New Dark Ages. In a matter of a few short years the Pandoran system was swarming with pirate ships, but their inability to replicate the Jumpdrive kept them bottled up in their own system, for the Pandoran city-states jealously guarded their scavenged Phoenix Empire Jumpdrives and Jumpkeys. 
The Imperial Navy has established a partial blockade in Pandoran space to control access to the system although starships from both sides manage to slip through from time to time. Unauthorized travel to Pandora is forbidden under Imperial law, and both Church and League have declared the world off-limits for its subjects. The technological resources on Pandora are considerable, but everyone fears the consequences for the Phoenix Empire if Pandoran wares and ethics were to spread into civilized space. Still, it is widely believed that every faction is sneaking agents to Pandora to reap its harvests before others gain access to it. 
Now Pandoran pirate fleets scour the Pandora system, attacking anyone too weak to resist them and even the Imperial Navy has suffered losses. Within the last few years Pandoran pirates have begun to make raids in to the neighboring Sutek system and placing additional pressures on the Hazat military. Some Pandorans have even served as mercenaries, their reputation for ruthlessness tempered only by their loyalty to none but themselves.

Pandora
Star: Drum (orange star)
System: Torch (0.3AU), Sludge (0.6AU), Pandora (1.0AU), Mtha (4.8AU), Migon (8.0AU), Elysia (15.0AU; 15 moons, 20 space stations), Jumpgate (30.0AU)
Jumps: Sutek
Capital: Neo Chiba (not a true world capitol, but it has the largest spaceport)
Resources: industry, ores, minerals, ancient ruins, tech caches
Exports: weapons tech, cyber tech, starships, refined ores

Important People:
Taipan Gan Chu: The self styled master of Neo Chiba, his wealth and power extends from his domination of the Zan Corp, one of the three great powers of Pandora. Based in Neo Chiba its structures of glass and cermasteel tower over the sprawl of the city. From this glittering tower Gan Chu controls a vast economic empire, as one of the defining powers his corporation has begun the manufacture of space frames with which he intends to take control of previously untapped off world resources. Simple piracy has its uses, but Gan Chu plans for a day when Zan Corp will dominate everything.

Overview:
From space, Pandora appears deceptively serene. It is a simple yellowish world with few large bodies of water and few distinguishing features of terrain. Hidden behind this placid exterior, the planet has thousands of hidden dangers, not in the form of its indigenous flora or fauna, but from the technology covertly used by its human inhabitants. Vast plains of red soil provide abundant crops, plenty of cheap building material, and a haven for those who study forbidden tech. Poverty and progress exist side by side. 
Over 99% of the world’s population now consists of peasants living at a sustenance level. Less than one in 10,000 Pandorans actually belong to the planet’s tech-aristocracy. Because they prefer to keep their wealth hidden, their fields of sustenance farms and vast dilapidated villages hide some of the most advanced technology in Human Space. Hidden in the midst of over a billion peasants, small cabals of technophiles continue to develop their crafts. Cybertech is much rarer now than it was a thousand years ago, but nearly anyone on the streets of Pandoran cities may peddle scraps of it… or themselves use it. In the safest sanctums of their homes, the wealthiest families keep their heirlooms hidden from greedy neighbors. Beyond the city walls cyber enhanced nomad gang’s control large regions of the planet through fear and intimidation, preying on the defenseless to provide foodstuffs, and take whatever they needed from whoever they can. 
Pandora still has unusually advanced medical technology, for the culture has maintained a sizable cast of healers and surgeons. The local standards of medicine are slightly ahead of what the Engineer’s Guild possess. Advanced medicine, complicated with the easy availability of food and housing, has made overpopulation an ever-present problem; thus, human life is far from sacred. Health care exists for profit, and Pandoran doctors are a mercenary lot – many a patient visiting a Pandoran clinic has woken up in a back ally with organs and cybernetics harvested by the surgeons, while the less fortunate find themselves harvested on the streets even before reaching the hospital. 
Pandora is overpopulated, and although grains and soya is cultivated in abundance, water is scarcer. Because food and housing are plentiful, and the locals are not troubled by predators, the Pandoran ecosystem has found another way to keep the human population down: outbreaks of violence. Pandorans do not flinch at the thought of killing to survive, and their culture is a mix of technological supremacy and social barbarism. Those who have tech will kill to keep it; those who do not will kill to take it. Cheap blades are as plentiful on Pandora as soya, and children learn to throw them and brawl with them as part of growing up. Adults are worse, usually preferring cheap slug guns. An armed planet is a polite planet, and few worlds are as “polite” as Pandora. 
Neo Chiba is the largest city on Pandora and host the largest spaceport – a huge maxicrete clearing with refueling stations, mechanics, merchants, and cantinas nearby. It’s a crumbling place with a large open medical “black” market. Odyssia is a remote village with a high golem population. Fervor is a heavily armed city with a munitions industry based economy, and “synthlife”, an artificial component that perfectly mimics human flesh, is also produced here.

Pandoran Sinners & Saints
Donal Reegest
Donal is part of a burgeoning class of guides, consultants and merchants gathering around the spaceport of Neo Chiba that grows busier every month. He left his band of Think Machine programmers a few years ago to sell “codes” (programs) for off world Think Machines; unfortunately, the few Think Machines he encountered didn’t run on the panlex programming language he was used to. Now he’s got a far more profitable business offering to steer off-worlders to a clinic where they can buy a little cybernetic “edge.” Each client he encounters falls into one of two classes: powerful enough to fleece for lots of money or weak enough to rob for even more money. Either way, business is good.
Quote: “You want it? I can find it! You need it? I’ve got it! Right this way… in the alleyway, second door on the left…”
Description: At just over 5’ tall, Donal has mastered the art of appearing innocuous and nondescript. The dull red robes he wears do more than help him blend into a crowd. His personal wealth is measured in the armaments he’s stolen. He doesn’t stretch cloth across his face just to keep his lungs free of dust; he prefers that no-one remembers his face. If you actually got a good look at his features – after removing his thick glasses and artificial brown hair – you’d see a forgettable face with a broken nose, thin lips and a squint. When undressed, his pale skin looks more suitable for life underground. 
Dex: 6 Vig: 5 Vitality -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0/0/0/0
Wit: 5 Wil: 4 Fatigue -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0/0/0
Int: 4 Pre: 2 Reputation -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0
Faith: 2
Skills: Athletics 5, Culture (Pandora) 2, Culture (“Panlex” Coders) 5, Culture (Phoenix Empire) 1, Deception 5, Dodge 2, Fight 4, Influence 3, Lore (Golem Tech) 2, Observe 4, Shoot 2, Sneak 3, Survival 4, Streetwise 3, Tech Redemption 2, Think Machine 6, Throw 2
Benefits & Afflictions: Lost Worlder (Pandora), Wealth (High)
Cybernetics: Concealed Storage (cannot be detected by TL4 or lower means), Frapper Field (activated by snapping his fingers, anyone touching him suffer the same effects as if attacked with a Frapper, no goal roll/VPs bonus)
Gear: Dusty robes (heavy cloth armor), Ceramsteel Knife (very sturdy), Frapper

Pandoran Cyber Pirate (generic)
Dex: 6 [+1] Vig: 5 [+3] Vitality -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0/0/0/0 [/0/0/0]
Wit: 2 Wil: 4 [+1] Fatigue -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0/0/0 [/0]
Int: 4 Pre: 3 Reputation -10/-8/-6/-4/-2/0/0/0
Faith: 2
Skills: Athletics 5, Command 2, Culture (Cyber Pirates) 4, Culture (Pandora) 2, Culture (Phoenix Empire) 1, Discipline 0 [+3], Dodge 5, Fight 4, Influence 3, Observe 3, Sneak 3, Shoot 5 [+3], Throw 2
Benefits & Afflictions: Lost Worlder (Pandoran), Wealth (Average)
Cybernetics: N-Wave Oculus (N-Wave Vision, Ultraviolet Vision), Solid Resolve (+1 Will, +3 Discipline), Sub-Dermal Plating (Armor 5 ballistic, +3 Vitality), Targeting Matrix (+1 Dexterity, +3 Shoot), Code Scrambler Interface Box (renders all the character’s cybernetics unusable unless extracted and repaired at a Pandoran cyber clinic, this to prevent enemy reclamation of precious tech)
Gear: Breaker-Saber (fitted with an energy shield Breaker enhancement), Stunner, blaster pistol, Synthsilk

Ships of the Pandora Cyber Pirate Fleet
Pandora had no working starships prior to capturing Phoenix Empire vessels. The fleet it once possessed was long since cannibalized, while a few vessels survived to carry the wealthiest of tech aristocrats to safety on colonies orbiting Elysia or elsewhere in the system. When a handful of salvaged operational Jumpdrives had been secured, a collection of Pandoran states choose to utilize them in a novel way, they constructed a Jump-capable carrier ship to freight their raiding ships across the Jumpweb.

Razor Class Raider
The Razor Class was one of the earliest Pandoran designs to be produced by Zan Corp. The small delta wing design was intended to be trans-atmospheric, its compact size give it limited weapon hard points and only a small cargo hold, but in hunting in packs these vessels become dangerous. The Razor typically carries a large complement of Pandoran Pirates.
Hull Size: 1
Structure: 15
Armor: 0
Drives: Standard (3 months)
Crew: 1 command crew, 1 personnel
Sensors: 5AU
Weapons: Grapple Gun (Fixed—Fore), Volt Pulse Gun (Fixed--Fore)
Shields: 1/1
Cargo: 10 tons
Passengers: 12 (2 bunkrooms)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields Weapons
Standby –3 None 0/0 None
Port –1 Slow 0/0 None
Cruise 1 Standard 0/0 None
Attack +3 Standard 1/1 Powered
Maximum +5
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Decent) [5], Incomprehensible Tech [+5]
Benefit Cost: 23pts

Conveyer Class Jumpship
The Conveyer exists purely ferry raiders through the jumpgate. It displays a characteristic practicality of Pandoran design principles. Little more than an open frame structure with attached drives and accommodation areas. During a raid it will hang back to act as a command and control vessel and will engage prey ships at the maximum possible range to limit the changes of damage to its vital systems. 
Hull Configuration: 8
Structure: 85
Armor: 0
Drives: Slow (5 months), Jump Drive (3 jumps)
Crew: 4 command crew, 16 personnel
Sensors:  5AU
Weapons: 2x Volt Pulse Guns (2 turrets)
Shields: 2/2
Cargo: 430 tons *
Passengers: 60 (10 bunkrooms)
Other Systems: None
Power Signature Acceleration Shields Weapons
Standby 4 None 0/0 None
Port +6 Slow 0/0 None
Cruise +8 Slow 1/1 None
Attack +10 Slow 2/2 None
Maximum +12
Benefits & Afflictions: Void [0], Maintenance (Decent) [5], Incomprehensible Tech [+5], Fire Control (Medium) [10]
Benefit Cost: 28pts

* Up to 8 Razor Class Raiders can be attached to the outer hull of the Jumpship, and 4 more can be stored internally as cargo, though these ships can not be rapidly launched.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Imperial Fiefs

A quick look at the Imperial Fiefs of FS3, you should notice a number of changes over the FS2 material. A number of new personalities have been added to give face to some of the changes within the Phoenix Empire.



Imperial Fiefs
Emperor Alexius Hawkwood I rules the Phoenix Empire and his law and currency are the official standards of the Empire. His position requires a delicate juggling of rivaling Noble Houses, Church Sects and League interests, for though his Majesty commands the Empire it is ruled in his name by these major factions. The Emperor himself has direct authority of only over four worlds: Byzantium Secundus, Nowhere, Tethys, and Stigmata, although he holds prime territories on the newly rediscovered world of Rimpoche, and the human territories on the Vau border-worlds also fall under the Emperor’s direct jurisdiction.

Byzantium Secundus
Star: Solaris Primis (yellow star)
System: Vesuvius (0.16AU), Santius (0.85AU), Byzantium Secundus (1.46AU; Jericho; Spacestation: Diadem), Aden (16.18AU; New Malta), Spacestation: Cumulus (21.3AU), Magog (31.0AU; Tuszla, Amida, Cyril), Iblis (41.0AU; Derelict), Jumpgate (41.35AU)
Jumps: Aragon, Criticorum, Leminkainen, Madoc, Pentateuch, Pyre, Shaprut, Sutek, Tethys
Capital: Viridian – the Imperial City
Resources: agriculture, aquaculture, tourism
Exports: grain, politics, fashion, culture

Important People
Emperor Alexius I (born 4949): Emperor Alexius has consolidated and increased his rule since his ascension to the Phoenix Throne in 4993. The demands of state ensure he rarely has time to leave the Phoenix Court or to travel through his domain. Instead he receives diplomats and envoys from all across the Empire and beyond. His will is carried out by the cogs of the Imperial Bureaucracy or, if of the upmost importance, by the Order of the Phoenix.
Sir Chamon Mazarin (possibly born c. 4920): Sir Mazarin is an old knight, misshaped at birth, who has served at Alexius’ side since the Emperor was a boy. Sir Mazarin was instrumental to Alexius rise to power within House Hawkwood, and is now the Emperor’s Spy Master, commanding an elite cadre of agents and overseeing the Emperor’s personal security. He also liaises closely with the Imperial Eye.
Duchess Oelestre Xanthippes (born 4923): Duchess Oelestre has held the post as Director of the Imperial Eye since 4980 and has reformed the organization and quietly purging those disloyal to the Emperor. Her own elite agents form a psychic ‘thought police’ within the bureaucracy of the Eye. The duchess is herself a psychic and of considerable age, although she appears in her mid-30s, due in no small part to her use of longevity serums.
Lord Admiral Kalid Rashtan al-Malik (born 4960): The recently appointed Lord Admiral of the Imperial Fleet, Lord Admiral Rashtan is a quiet, thoughtful, and for a naval commander, a casual figure. He has served with distinction within the Imperial Navy for the past decade, rising to prominence due to his command and strategic vision. His lack of military bearing leads many to underestimate Lord Admiral Rashtan, but he enjoys the fanatic loyalty from his crew and troops. 
Marshal Hector McKerron (born 4967): McKerron is the first to serve as Marshal of the Phoenix Order, an office created in 5007. The Marshal was one of the first Hawkwood nobles to enlist with the Phoenix Order in 4996, having served under Alexius I since before he became Regent (4983). He was wounded in battle during Prince Flavius Li Halan’s bid for the Phoenix Throne (4993), and has been confined to work as an administrator since.
Sister Theafana al-Malik (born 4972): Sister Theafana was born on Stigmata to two garrison soldiers, and was raised by a local Brother Battle temple. She first met Alexius Hawkwood on Stigmata in 4991 during the Miracle of Sylan and Theafana was there when Alexius was first hailed as Emperor by the Stigmata Garrison. She was taken in by Alexius’ entourage and soon became one of his most ardent supporters, protector and even lover. When Alexius took the Phoenix Throne many assumed Theafana would be his empress, but instead the two become somewhat estranged, and Alexius I has since cultivated other romantic interests.
Archbishop Marcus Aurelius Palamon (born 4930): Archbishop of Byzantium Secundus is a powerful figure within the Universal Church, and a reluctant supporter of the Phoenix Empire. Palamon is a theologically conservative follower of St. Maya and a shrewd politician who fought for decades to be ordained as Archbishop of Byzantium Secundus in 4981. He is a favorite candidate to replace Patriarch Hezekiah when the aging pontiff’s time comes, but Palamon is himself advanced of years. Nevertheless, Archbishop Palamon surrounds himself with a retinue of Urth Orthodox clergy and acolytes, as well as celebrated members of other Church Sects.
Consul Oliver Lords (born 4954): Consul Lords is a Scravers’ Guild success story. Consul Lords struck big when he uncovered a First Republic military depot bunker on Holy Terra in 4990, which he smuggled off-world and promptly peddled to Alexius. This eventually awarded him the position of Merchant League ambassador to the Phoenix Throne. He is a fervent supporter of Emperor Alexius I (“he’s generally good for business”) and is sometimes called a turncoat by other guilders.

Overview:
Byzantium Secundus is a watery world with swampy island continents dotted by city sprawls.  It is a warm and humid world with the surface being more than 87.5% water, and torrential rains regularly wracking the planet’s six major continents. Ocean levels have risen steadily for over five centuries, likely a side effect of the Fading Suns phenomenon from which the system’s sun suffer more than most.  Its moon Jericho, was terraformed with a breathable atmosphere and full ecosystem during the Second Republic, but was reduced to a dead rock in the Siege of Jericho in 4994. Though Byzantium Secundus suffered terrible destruction in the Emperor Wars much of what was destroyed has since been rebuilt. Grand monuments have been raised in honor of Emperor Alexius I as well as dead heroes from all sides of the war.
The planet was first colonized in 2320 by IOPEC, a powerful zaibatsu energy consortium, who named it “New Mecca”. Within a few generations the planet began rebelling against its zaibatsu owners and in 2599 the local noble House Hamid laid claims to the world and renamed it “New Istanbul”, before liberating it in the famous Battle of New Istanbul the following year. In time the planet came to be ruled by the Market Authority, which soon spread its influence across human space, eventually joining forces with similar commercial powers on Leagueheim to birth the Second Republic in 3500. New Istanbul served as the capitol world until the Ten Great Houses forced the Second Republic to its knees in the year 4000. The planet was renamed “Byzantium Secundus” and became capitol of human space once more when Vladimir Alecto united the Known Worlds against Vuldrok barbarians in the 4540s. The planet served as capitol of the Regency from Vladimir’s death in 4550 and was hotly contested during the Emperor Wars. The worst devastation was felt during the the Hazat sacking of the world in 4979 and the Final Battle of Byzantium Secundus in 4994. When Alexius Hawkwood abdicated as Prince of House Hawkwood to claim the Phoenix Throne in 4993, Byzantium Secundus was the obvious choice for his seat of power.
As the centre of Imperial politics and intrigue, every major faction (and numerous minor ones) of the Known Worlds have representation here, and even the barbarian realms and the enigmatic Vau send their envoys here to scheme and do business. Viridian is a vibrant cosmopolite that caters to almost any taste and here political games can make or break someone overnight. Politics is a pastime here and everybody, from the lowliest serf to the mightiest aristocrat engages in political speculation, argument, and machinations. Millirice grows like wildfire almost everywhere and aquaculture is also strong, resulting in grain being one of the few resources exported.
With a largely urbanized population of some 6 billion humans and about 600,000 aliens and very limited land area, Byzantium Secundus is a crowded planet. There is, however, plenty of work to be found within the military and administrative branches of the Imperial bureaucracy, as well as in the service and tourism businesses, so poverty is relatively rare. 
On Byzantium Secundus, high and low share much the same cultural references and identity of maritime ideas and imagery, and an air of pride and cosmopolitism are found even among serfs. Byzantium Secundus export fashion and culture like no other world known to the Phoenix Empire, and odd off-world customs and fashions are accepted here as a rule of law for no citizen of the Phoenix Empire are to be discriminated against on the Throne World. Orthodoxy is the ruling denomination by a landslide, although numerous minor cults also practice here.

Nowhere
Star: Eon
System: Cyclops (0.42AU), Nowhere (2.98AU; Ananda), Soma (21.56AU), Gargantua (38.24AU; Astarte, Kali, Persephone), Jumpgate (75.4AU)
Jumps: Stigmata 
Capital: Necropolis
Resources: Second Republic artifacts, ores, minerals, fossil fuels
Exports: refined ores, fuels, Second Republic artifacts, nomad cultural items.

Important People
General Albrech Brech (born 4971): The Imperial Governor and Garrison Commander of Nowhere, General Brech is a bastard son of a Hawkwood mother, and an enthusiastic supporter of the Emperor. He prefers to handle conflicts with the desert nomads through diplomacy, and maintain a high morale in his forces by operating a rotation system for off-world leave and allowing families living off-world to regularly visit the troops.
Bishop Lucio Borges (born 4908): Bishop Borges of the Cathedral of St. Claudius (St- Lextius’ page) is a blind old man of failing health. Although the leading priest on Nowhere, Lucio Borges is a mere Bishop as the planet falls under the See of Stigmata and the Archbishop Lycrecia. The natives of Nowhere see Bishop Borges, rather than the Imperial Governor Brech, as their leader for he is a native of Necropolis.

Overview:
Nowhere is a broken desert world, it soil black and cursed. The atmosphere is faint and the climate a dry tropical and breathing apparatus are required for long-term outdoor travel or short-term exertion. Nowhere is largely a dead world, with few areas of native vegetation, although the mountains hold some fresh water. The reason for the planet’s current condition lays in a mysterious planet-wide devastation that occurred nearly a thousand years ago. This destroyed what used to be a lush world and even the planet’s shallow seas, which once covered 1/5 of the surface, are now all but gone. 
Nowhere, originally named “Sao Paulo”, was discovered in the 25th century and properly settled in the early 29th century. The planet yielded a bountiful agricultural crop and the ruined Ur-structures dotting the planet attracted some interest. During the Second Republic, Sao Paulo was a backwater bread-basket planet run by agro-clans. It acquired some fame in the last century before the Fall when a breakthrough in android and cloning technology made Sao Paulo the center of such research. When the Second Republic collapsed the planetary defense force closed the local Jumpgate in 4012 to escape invasion. When rediscovered in 4388, Sao Paulo had transformed from a lush garden paradise to a dead wasteland, the cause of which is still unknown. Pockets of natives had survived by adapting to a desert life, but they could not shed any light on the devastation. House Masseri claimed the world and renamed it “Nowhere”. It was conquered by House Alecto in 4514 and it is often speculated that the successes of Vladimir Alecto some decades later was due to some Ur artifacts found on Nowhere. Nowhere became a Regency fief after Vladimir’s death and although there was some resistance to off-world rule, central control was quickly welcomed in the face of Symbiot invasion of the 50th century.
As the name suggests, Nowhere is rather unimportant in Imperial politics. Few off-worlders have any interesting in the planet, except for the steady stream of pilgrims coming to visit the Ur sites. The economy is heavily influenced by Scravers machinations, and the authorities tolerate the smuggling of goods, especially weapons, into Nowhere as travelling the wilderness without carry a slug gun equals suicide. However, the ban on smuggling wares and artifacts off of Nowhere is strictly enforced and even nobles have been publically executed for such crimes.
Around 1.7 million humans inhabit this world, the vast majority of which are desert nomads. The population is strictly divided between the urban centers under Imperial control and the desert dwellers who desire self-government. These “desert rabble” survive by any means available, including begging, thieving, and smuggling. They are an ingenious people and with them nothing goes to waste – centuries and even millennia old equipment is commonplace, and some still drive 300 year old petrol vehicles maintained by the same family for generations. Today, Nowhere is famed only for Urzenkai, the great Gargoyle of Nowhere that imparts omens and visions to worthy, and each year more pilgrims make the risky journey to seek its guidance. Many pilgrims never return home, instead blending into the desert population to eking out a living in the sands.

Stigmata
Star: Solen (yellow-orange star)
System: Blood (0.45AU), Ubix (0.82AU), Celadon (1.23AU; Gozo), Stigmata (1.93AU; Martyr), Spacestation: Ventris 2.53AU), Sargasso Belt (3.57-4.23AU), Krag (15.74AU; Caltrop, Least, Mulwen), Vixen (31.12AU; Predator, Prey), Spacestation: Keard (43.2AU), Jumpgate (45.62AU)
Jumps: Bannockburn, Istakhr, Shaprut, Nowhere, Absolution (warning: Symbiot world), Daishan (warning: Symbiot world),
Capital: Damark Station
Resources: minerals, deuterium
Exports: none

Important People
Baroness Lucinda Dulcinea Hazat (born 4950): Baroness Lucinda was a childhood friend of (the then) Alexius – Son of Utar Vincius Hawkwood, but during the Emperor Wars the two stood on opposite sides, and in 4979 she lead a legion of Hazat infantry against the Hawkwood during the Sacking of Byzantium Secundus. After the war the now Emperor Alexius offered her the prestigious post of Stigmata Garrison Commander, usually reserved for the most loyal of allies, a post she has held longer than most. Traditionally, the Regent appointed the Garrison Commander for 10-year stints, but in 5005 Emperor Alexius personally asked Lucinda to accept a second term. Normally, garrison soldiers retire after 20 years of service and are granted land on Stigmata, and the time grows near for Lucinda, but the reason for her accepting the second term were promises from the Emperor that afterwards she would be allowed to spearhead the Imperial forces in a crusade against the Kurga Caliphate, although Alexius now seems reluctant to attack the barbarian realms.
Adept Hector de Gould (born 4979): Adept Hector was orphaned at a tender age and raised by the Brother Battle order. He excelled in his studies of strategy and tactics though by his own admission was only a passable warrior. Though the Adept has served on the various pilgrim trails and participated in anti-piracy actions across the Phoenix Empire this is his first tour of duty on Stigmata. His ability to organize on a strategic level has been valuable in the face of changing Symbiot tactics and maintaining the state of readiness amongst the Brother Battle and the Manifest Light for when the next push comes.

Overview:
Stigmata is an Urthlike world wracked by war. It is dominated by a primary continental landmass surrounded by smaller continents and islands. An arboreal world, whole regions were laid waste by aerial and orbital bombardment, though these regions have been reclaimed by weird Symbiot sprouts. Symbiots control the seas, humans control space, with the land (33% of the surface) a jungle hell. The last few years have seen little fighting on Stigmata as the Symbiots seem to have faded into the jungle, which now grows so fast and thick that Garrison patrols become lost and disoriented over night. Fire and defoliants are used to hold the jungle back, but these methods are increasingly ineffective and some outlaying communities have been completely overrun by forest creepers.
The planet was discovered and sparsely settled early in the Diaspora era, then known as Shiraz. Later it began to experience massive geological upheavals earning it a new name – Sepulcher. During the Second Republic terraforming efforts proved to fail, and sometimes backfire, but nonetheless, the population steadily grew. After the Fall, House al-Malik and the League shared control of Stigmata, until the Symbiots attacked in 4900. The al-Malik defenses were shattered and most of the noble and League fiefs and holdings were surrendered to the authority of the Regency, who rushed in the fleet and armies to hold Stigmata. The stalemate continued until the Emperor Wars brought a shift in martial focus, leaving the Stigmata Garrison underfunded, underequipped, and undermanned. In 4991 the then Stigmata Garrison Commander, Countess Carmetha Decados, took most of the Regency armies and attacked Criticorum. The Symbiots seized the opportunity and pushed the defenders back all the way to the military headquarters at Sylan. This began the five months long Siege of Sylan that almost ended human presence on Stigmata, but just as rations and ammunitions had all but dried up, what is commonly called the Miracle of Sylan occurred. The Stigmata Garrison was saved in the nick of time as Hawkwood and Regency forces, under the banner of Alexius Hawkwood, arrived to relieve the garrison and push back the Symbiot Menace, a feat instrumental in Alexius later acquiring the Phoenix Throne.
Stigmata politics revolves around the defense of the Phoenix Empire against the Symbiots, and it is home to the Stigmata Garrison, the finest collection of troops in the Phoenix Empire bar only the Emperor’s elite Phoenix Guard. Levies are sent from all over the Phoenix Empire to protect this bottleneck to Symbiot space, and any veteran of Stigmata is a Hero of the Realm.  Stigmata is also home to one of the Cities of Refuge declared by Adolpho II, Shurgar Station has in many ways become a free city under Veteran rule, as a society they are highly organized and militarized and protective of sizeable surrounded parcels of land awarded to Veterans for their service. They have also made a serious effort to control the rogue criminal element that used to call the city their sanctuary.
The human civilian population of Stigmata is estimated to 70-75.000, mostly Stigmata veterans awarded a patch of land for their 20-year war service, or descendants thereof, although a few original settlements have also been reclaimed. Even these communities are closely tied to the war effort and are depended on a military economy, buying military surplus materiel and protection with whatever produce they can spare after the harvest. 

Tethys
Star: Agni
System: Amon (0.31AU), Kaanta (0.82AU), Tethys (1.1AU; Spacestation: Tethys Shipyards, Soma), Aragon (3.09AU), Azlan (7.24AU; 6 moons), Goya (12.27AU; 3 moons), Turan (38.27AU), Jumpgate (59.17AU)
Jumps: Byzantium Secundus, Delphi, Urth (lost jumproad, no jumpkeys known to exist)
Capital: Nuevo Madrid
Resources: ores, agriculture, aquaculture, salvaged materials, fossil fuels
Exports: Refined ore, industrial chemicals, weapons tech, medical tech, think machine tech, industrial tech, vehicles, starships

Important People
None: Tethys is governed by a vast faceless and impersonal bureaucracy.

Overview:
Tethys is the industrial center of the Imperial fiefs, kept healthy solely by atmosphere engines. Strip-mined, over-developed, and suffering from centuries of pollution, most of the native flora and fauna is long gone, the existing species mostly descending from Urth imports. However, there are places here where deforestation has not occurred, and it boasts isles and mountains as pure as those of other worlds. Tethys is 43% water; it used to have more, but plaster deposits filled up some of the bays and inner seas. Plankton farms dot the seas while the land is given up to military industry and food production. Tethys is roughly the size of Holy Terra, with a year of 359 days and gravity slightly lower than Urth standard (0.96 G). The temperatures are stable and pleasant, the arctic regions being warmer than Urth’s and the hottest regions milder. 
Once Tethys had a jumprout, now lost, connecting it with Holy Terra and this was one of the first worlds discovered by humans. However, it did not become the subject of aggressive colonization and development until the early 25th century, when it was acquired by the agracorp Verdeco. It remained loyal to Urth for the remainder of the First Republic, and only after New Mecca (Byzantium Secundus) fell to the royalists in 2600 did Tethys tentative declare independence. Tethys’ most famous native was St. Amalthea, born in 2701. She grew up in a peaceful time, which was shattered in a brutal three-year civil war in which Major Huang, head of the planetary security force, tried to seize the planet for Urth. With the Huang rebellion crushed, Tethys found itself under the rule of the Sung family, who began as democratic reformers but within three generations ruled as despots. It was under the Sung that the strip-mining of Tethys began, and the Second Republic largely depleted the world of vital ores, timber, uranium, and fresh water. By the late 39th century, over 90% of native life forms faced extinction and oxygen-producing engines were erected to keep the air breathable. When the Second Republic Fell, the corporate rulers were so despised that the nobles were welcomed, although it was the Crafters Guild, who had shrewdly bargained for self-governance in return for low-cost munitions and foodstuffs, who ruled as governors. Twice Tethys fought off large-scale Vuldrok attacks, first at the Battle of Amazonia in 4304, when native forces defeated the invaders, and again in 4537 when Vladimir Alecto arrived to help the Tethys militia defeat the dreaded King Froljir’s chief lieutenant, Ragnor Thorsonn in the Battle of Two Horse Fields. Every Regent since then carved a piece of Tethys for their family, but Tethys managed to remain independent despite many a Regent’s attempting to seize the world wholesale. The threat of eyeing Regents came to an end with the birth of the Phoenix Empire, when Tethys became an Imperial World. Now, Tethys is a foundation stone of the Empires military might, and great factories produce the munitions and materiel for the Imperial war machine. 
The Imperial Bureaucracy rules Tethys, although much control is delegated to various guilds. Spying, bribery, and blackmail are rife here, for so fierce is the competition for contracts, and many off-world powers seek inside scoops on just what the Imperial industry is currently up to. In orbit over the world is the renowned Tethys shipyard that produces and maintains the might of the Imperial Navy.
The Sanctuary Aeon Sect holds much sway in local culture and many regardless of their secular affiliation also venerate Saint Amalthea, although ecclesiastical politics is dominated by Orthodoxy. In the aftermath of the Emperor Wars many common soldiers were awarded knighthoods and land on Tethys in return for their service. Also a small number are retired members of the Order of the Phoenix and they are the first of a new breed of aristocrats tied directly to the Emperor, the likely beginnings of a formal Imperial House.