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.

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.

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.