Monday, 24 June 2013

Decados Fiefs


In FS3 House Decados has just suffered twin defeats, the loss of Iver to the Hazat has awoken bitterness between the once fast allies, and the betrayal of the Masseri, which in turn freed House Keddah. As such the House is temporarily wrong footed and focusing its efforts internally to ensure that another minor House does not get ideas above its station.



Decados Fiefs
Today House Decados possess five worlds, four clustered together in an interstellar ‘neighborhood’ and one (Pandemonium) laying three jumps away. Decados Space was once much larger, as the house lost several worlds to closing jumpgates during the New Dark Age. Just how many planets the Mantis House used to control is debatable, as Decados historians have a tendency to claim any rumored Lost World as once part of the mighty Decados homeland. For House Decados, success, by any means, is considered the only acceptable way to conduct business and in practical fact, the Mantis House is a Machiavellian meritocracy; those who fail are seldom given another chance while the successful are sometimes elevated far beyond their station.

Cadavus
Star: Ka (pale yellow star)
System: Atum (0.28AU; Khepri), Gendenwitha (0.96AU; Sosondowah), Cadavus (1.26AU; Spacestation: Murimuria, Joh, Chons), At-bon (3.31AU), Damballa (9.8AU; 57 moons), Kauket (32.26AU), Jumpgate (44.82AU), Bacalou (51.03AU) 
Jumps: Criticorum, Malignatius, Severus
Capital: Thebes
Resources: minerals, fossil fuels
Exports: minerals, fossil fuels, slaves
Important People:

Duke Franz Decados (born 4965): Duke Franz and his wife (and cousin), Duchess Ursula, were given this fief as reward for their actions in the Emperor Wars. It is rumored they were exiled to Cadavus for participating in a failed coup against Prince Hyram. Always hungry for distractions, Duke Franz spends much of his time entertaining guests, and all nobles are welcomed in his court. 
Duchess Ursula Decados (born 4972): Duchess Ursula has grown bitter since she came to Cadavus and is often been heard criticizing the Decados Way. She enjoys entertaining guests and is knowledgeable about Imperial politics and Decados court gossip.
Countess Elena Decados (born 4982): Countess Elena, ruler of the technologically savvy (for Cadavus) Hyksos continent in the south-eastern hemisphere, is renowned as the most beautiful woman in Decados Space. She spent several years travelling with the Charioteers before assuming the Hyksos throne, and she is a driving force behind the reconstruction attempts of space station Murimuria. Since 5009, Elena has spent most of her time on Murimuria in the company of administrator Lady Rihana al-Malik. Countess Elena is also well-known for her dealings with House al-Malik, having stimulated an increase in trade, tax-reduction, and inspections on the space station.
Vis-Marquis Kovann Trusnikron (born 4986): The young Lord of Sudania (south-western hemisphere, its population poor, violent, and frequently heretical) is a foul-tempered, prejudicial, and arrogant – at least according to Decados nobles. Lord Kovann inherited his father’s land in 5000 when the former Vis-Marquise Korban lost his life in a Decados raid that violated the Treaty of Thebes that governs relations between the two houses. Lord Kovann has harbored ill-feelings against his patron house ever since. 
Archbishop Nadia – Metropolitan of the Cadavus Metropilae (born 49??): Metropolitan Nadia holds Church authority over Cadavus, Cadiz, Malignatius, Pandemonium, Severus, Iver (contested by the Aragon Metropliae), and Vril-Ya (claimed). Of Cadavus stock, Archbishop Nadia is staunchly Orthodox in ecclesiastical dealings, but remains unashamedly Decados in politics. Theologically, she is conservatively Hinayana, but she is lenient towards the question of moral and the nobility. Nadia argues that the logical conclusion of the Privilege of Martyrs is to extend the decree to all sins for those burdened to lead, not just sins concerning the use of technology. Although she rarely leaves Cadavus, Archbishop Nadia is one of Duchess Salandra’s closest advisors and the only priest the duchess trusts as a confessor.
Count Gneaus Dextrite (born 4967): Count Gneaus is the new ruler of the lush (by Cadavus standards) Ayizan fief at the north pole, which used to belong to House Masseri. Gneaus used to be a landless baron on Leminkainen serving as a general-for-hire to House Decados during the Emperor Wars, but was elevated to Count after conquering Ayizan in 5007. Count Gneaus is struggling to down-size his army to something his fief can maintain, as there are few retirement options available to his veterans. As a consequence, solders turned brigands plague the Ayizan fief.

Overview:
Cadavus is a dry and frozen wasteland and only the polar regions retain healthy ecosystems. Great mountain ranges, many volcanic, dot the wastes, their mines long since exhausted. The surface is 90% land, divided between two radioactive seas; the equatorial Medicadavan Sea, and the northern Agwe Sea whose shores and tributary rivers hosts most settlements. A severe axial tilt (88 degrees) gives Cadavus only two long seasons. Around the poles, communities are buzzing with activity in the summer and in near hibernation in the winter. Between the poles the seasons are; the Calm Season when the axis is level with the planetary orbit, giving a normal (26 hour) day-cycle; and the Apophis Season when the hemispheres alternate between being in constant darkness and constant daylight, causing fierce storms. Temperatures are usually well below freezing, although the soil and waters are significantly warmer, heated by tectonic forces. The south pole is a pristine and protected natural reserve. 
Sonatath (Cadavus) was discovered in the mid-24th century by Sathraist pilots seeking refuge. The zaibatsu arrived 20 years later and drove off the Sathraists. Strip-mining and exploitation made Sonatath a busy corporate world. The ruling Ramses Solid Ventures corporation claimed noble lineage in the 2540s, but was destroyed by their partners and subsidiaries. Sonatath slid into turmoil, until local paramilitaries seized the world with backing from a Criticorum-based commercial coalition. Over the next millennia, Sonatath changed hands dozens of times. The Omega Gospel tells how Sonatath, in the 28th century, was controlled by the antinomist Durargo, before he and his Apophis Dragon (a native predator) was defeated by the Prophet. Disaster came when the local House O’Niell resorted to defend Sonatath against Li Halan invasion with nuclear bombardment (3293), creating a decade-long nuclear winter that earned the world its current name – “Dead World”. During the 35th century, Cadavus exploded in religious conflict as fanatics of numerous faiths came to battle any unholy threat lingering from Durargo’s reign, but found only each other. During the Second Republic, Cadavus came under the control of the Criticorum-based Bashshar Corporation who attempted to restore the world while continuing strip-mine it. A violent worker revolution overthrew the Bashshar Corporation in the 3980s and declared Cadavus a communist world. House al-Malik sought to retake the planet, while House Decados supported the Cadavan Revolution. But the revolution hated both houses and continued to rebel, and in 4007 shut down the Jumpgate. Cadavus reappeared in 4077 and was acquired by the minor House Aviz, who began an ambitious rebuilding program, before House Trusnikron invaded in the spring of 4089, reasserting and the ancient pattern of conquest and re-conquest. Matriarch Alethea (4204–4287, Matriarch from 4259) sent the Patriarchal Fleet to liberate the Cadavans from noble (predominantly Hazat) rule in 4272. The Universal Church made great efforts to heal Cadavus and the poles were declared natural reserves. The south pole, Locko, still enjoys this protected status, but the north, Ayizan, was given to House Masseri refugees from Symbiot-conquered Daishan in 4900. Cadavus resisted the Universal Church’s benevolent rule, and in 4474 Cadavus was given to the newly converted House Li Halan, who ruled with an iron fist in a velvet glove. As part of the peace settlement after Theocrat Halvor I’s death in 4691, House Li Halan gave Cadavus to the Regency, which began new centuries of overexploitation as each successive Regent extracted as much resources as possible during his/her reign. When the Emperor Wars broke out, Regent Darius Hawkwood quickly abandoned the depleted world, allowing the Cadavus Reeves’ Guild Dean to become governor. Then in 4969, House Decados invaded Cadavus under the guise of seeking a Hawkwood-backed terrorist cell that firebombed the Transvaalite Palace on Severus earlier that year, and the house has held the unwanted world since. In 5007, House Dextrite conquered the Messari domains of Ayizan as part of the crack-down against that house.
Cadavus is arguably the poorest planet in the Phoenix Empire. Few planets can claim such a long history of bloodshed, and Cadavus has endured continuous rebellions for centuries. Little interstellar politics is practiced here, for no other faction shows Cadavus much interest, even the local Decados nobles frequently seek positions off world.
It is claimed that every faction in the Empire has owned Cadavus, and although an exaggeration the world has seen more buy-outs, hostile take-overs, invasions, abandonment, and public uprising than any other. Cadavus is therefore a cultural hotchpotch with every thinkable cultural element found somewhere. Countless monasteries dot Cadavus, representing almost every religious and heretical group known. House Decados is developing the planet’s infrastructure and accommodations, as cheaply as possible (including using slave labor), to stimulate pilgrimage tourism to capitalize on the rich local religious traditions. House Xanthippe owns a moonhaven on the Cadavus’ second moon Chons, from where they export collected solar energy to hungery power grids on the planet below. The Cadavan peoples, counting a little over 600.000, are a tough lot, sometimes violent and usually suspicious of strangers, and many are rebellious by nature.

Cadiz
Star: Plyon
System: Cadiz (0.88AU; Persus), Tarshish (1.45AU), Hammon (12.37AU; 38 moons), Sucellus (18.14-38.87AU), Jumpgate (34.09AU)
Jumps: Severus, Malignatius, Vril-Ya (warning: Vau world), Manitou (warning: Vau world)
Capital: Elibyrge 
Resources: agriculture
Exports: foods, exotics (Vau tech), Heronem cultural objects

Important People
Duchess Salandra Decados (born 4967): Duchess Salandra is often regarded as the perfect Decados and the stories spun about here befit the vilest of Magic Lantern villains. She assumed the throne of Cadiz at age 15, having studied under the Engineers’ Guild for seven years prior. Her rise through House Decados has been swift, and she presumably controls a spy-network more effective than even Prince Hyram or Emperor Alexius I. Her skills at seduction and manipulation are legendary, and it is an established truism that she is the Emperor’s occasional lover, there are also unsubstantiated rumors she was pregnant by the Emperor in 5009, though no evidence has been discovered to indicate that such was ever true or that she gave birth.
Duke Stephan Svanfeld Decados (born 4960): In his earlier years, the Duke of Murciyah enjoyed a reputation as a versatile paramour of men, women, and aliens of all genders. Then he was seduced by Duchess Salandra, falling for the mantis predator as hard as any man ever fell for a woman, only to be summarily discarded and ridiculed at court. Since his disgrace, Duke Stephan has remained a recluse, devoting his time to esoteric studies and genealogy. His political and military acumen are widely respected amongst the Li Halan, whom he fought in the Emperor Wars. The good trade relations between Icon and Cadiz are Duke Stephan’s sole accomplishment, and both worlds are mindful of this debt.
Baroness Eldanna Van Gelder (born 4927): The head of the Cadiz House Van Gelder, a strict and influential liege lady who manages her squabbling Cadizian relatives with equal wisdom and firmness. Eldanna, colloquially known as “the Wise Judgeess”, is beloved by her subjects and respected by her peers and superiors alike. She has, however, never bore children, nor does she have close relatives to inherit her barony, and many fear the power struggle that will follow in her wake.

Overview:
Cadiz is wet and warm. Its terrain is as varied as Holy Terra’s, with the exception that arctic conditions exist only in the extreme south. Almost 76% of the surface is covered in water, with sea levels increasing each year, and the major landmasses are divided into three continents and a few major islands. Cadiz used to be more Urth-like, but following the fading of its sun, which started just before the Fall, the planet has grown warmer, rainfall has increased, waters and rivers have swollen, and much of the land turned to swamps or deserts. Huge, half-finished Second Republic megalopolises dot the surface, housing the dregs of society, and are often reclaimed by water and wilderness.
As usual, humanity cares little for the history of the Cadiz prior to the coming of mankind. Indeed, the Hironem civilization had been united under the Shamash God-King for three centuries, they had spread across the globe and managed a manned moon-landed, and their technology (possibly uplifted by the Vau) had produced firearms and motorization, but this is awarded little interest today. Cadiz was one of the few worlds to be discovered and colonized entirely by a noble house, as House Gloucester established a settlement far from Hironem habitation in 2680. The explorers must have realized the planet was inhabited by city-building sentients, but House Gloucester said nothing. The first Human-Hironem contact came in 2682 (18 years prior to the official first contact with the Shantor), but House Gloucester said nothing. The colonists bartered tech gadgets for Hironem land, but House Gloucester said nothing. In 2698, the settlers met the God-King who declared the sale of his land (which had been conducted without his knowing) void. The Hironem who had sold lands to the Humans were declared outcast (Illu) and the God-King demanded a massive sum in Human technology to legalize the sales, which the settlers paid in full, but House Gloucester said nothing. By 2702, the human settlers owned the continent of Murcyiah, and by the beginning of the 29th century Hironem lands were reduced to a handful of city states, but House Gloucester said nothing. In 2745, just days after humanity’s disastrous first contact with the Vau on Apshai, a Vau warship appeared over Cadiz, a warning for mankind not to provoke the Vau, and widespread panic gripped Cadiz. Human-Hironem relations were mostly peaceful under House Gloucester, for as long as the God-King was supplied with gadgets the Hironem remained docile. But in 2818 House Decados made their coup d’├ętat against House Gloucester and the existence of the Hironem was revealed at last. Jakob Decados formed the dreaded Jakovian Agency later that year, and in 2821 this agency instigated a Hironem rebellion against House Decados, giving the house a legitimate reason to retaliate. In the Semak Massacre, the rebellious village of Semak was obliterated through orbital bombardment, and the God-King was forced to sue for peace, seceding all lands to House Decados. Cadis experienced growth early in the Second Republic, as the planet was developed as the diplomacy world towards Vau Space. But when the Vau chose their world Vril-Ya as diplomacy world, all central funding to develop Cadiz was then withheld. Large sections of half-completed cities were abandoned and great motorways and railroads came to an end in the middle of nowhere. Cadiz suffered more than most from the Fall, as its populace was depended on the welfare system for survival, but House Decados came off as peacekeepers and benefactors. Houses Van Gelder and Li Halan also established fiefs here during this period. Initially, Cadiz served as breadbasket for Decados Space, but its fading sun significantly increased the temperature, flooding coastal regions and farmland with salt water and turning fertile forests and grassland into deserts. House Decados almost abandoned the broken world as more important systems rebelled and closed their Jumpgates, and Cadiz was all but forgotten in the New Dark Age. The Emperor Wars mostly spared the strategically irrelevant Cadiz, although a joint Li Halan and Van Gelder attempt to seize it in response to Decados aggression on Malignatius was countered in 4992. Since Alexius’ crowning, things are looking up for Cadiz as Duchess Salandra Decados has become a major political player. 
For over a thousand years Cadiz has been ignored by the high and mighty, and the majority of the people are poor and powerless. Scravers’ Guilders both protect and exploit the slums while the Urth Orthodoxy, together with some Brother Battle and Sanctuary Aeon influences, holds much local influence. But still, Cadiz is the homeworld of Duchess Salandra Decados and she reigns uncontested. Vau aggression is a constant fear on Cadiz, as is Hironem uprising and peasant rebellion.
The enormous half-finished city sections, originally intended to house dignitaries and Vau ambassadors, stand as slum ghettoes. Cadiz’ people are famous for their hospitality, eagerly welcoming off-worlders and interstellar news, although their prejudice against the Hironem is strong and the vigilante persecution and lynching of known rogues is a common sport. The population counts some 800 million humans and 60 million Hironem.

Malignatius
Star: Niqirtsuituq 
System: Angakok (0.17AU), Anadyr (1.54AU; Quikil), Malignatius (1.94AU; Julka), Arsanerit (9.26AU; 16 moons), Quinkinnaqu (20.49AU; 21 moons), Jumpgate (33.82AU)
Jumps: Cadavus, Kish, Cadiz, Istakhr
Capital: New Jakovgrad
Resources: exotics (animals), prisons
Exports: exotics (animals)

Important People
Duchess Valentina Decados (born 4967): The war hero and former leader of the Screaming Dervishes, Duchess Valentina was largely responsible for liberation of this world. As a warrior, Valentina is without peer, but as planetary Duchess she leaves much to be desired, and some speculate Prince Hyram sent her here to keep her from the refined Severus courts. Valentina is unhappily wed to the priggish Viscount Petya Torenson, whose efforts at decorum are ridiculed in the duchess' household. The day-to-day administration of her estates is largely left to lesser Decados nobles and some Van Gelder conies.
Marquis Zarachia Van Gelder (born 4968): The head of minor House Van Gelder. He rules the continent of Alakshak on behalf of Duke Lev Decados who withdrew from public in 4999. The Duke’s whereabouts are unknown, some speculate he has joined a Zuranist zeppelin caravan or an Amalthan hospice, but he is certainly alive, for messages bearing his seal and signature occasionally arrive at the palace, bringing instructions for his proxies in government. Marquis Zarachia is himself neither a feared nor loved man, but he ranks among the most able administrators of the planet.
Archbishop Ivar Gorecy Decados (born 4943): Archbishop Ivar is a notable power on Malignatius, simultaneously a distinguished Urth Orthodox theologian and respected politician. Once a young scion of House Decados, Ivar chose seminary over knighthood, eventually becoming a respected confessor and feared inquisitor on the streets of Tsaritsyn, Severus. As bishop, Ivar was cushion between the planet’s clergy and nobility, interpreting doctrine with regard to Tsaritsyn’s crowded conditions and the morality of the unique Decados. In 4999 he was the logical choice as Archbishop of the Malignatius.
Countess Amita Li Halan (born 4962): As ruler of the unconquered Di-Long Fiefdoms, Countess Amita is both a sore point and a proud feather in the hat for House Li Halan. This northern fief was never lost to House Decados, the remoteness of this near-arctic mountainous forming a barrier against both Decados aggression and Li Halan influence. But the countess is also a notorious apostate, dedicated to the perverse Manja heresy – or so the Decados insist.

Overview:
Malignatius is the coldest world in the Phoenix Empire. Ice sheet and tundra cover over half the landmass and almost all the surface water (48% of the surface) is frozen over in the winter. The planet has three major continents: Alakshak is the largest, Nunaat the most temperate, and New Tibet the southern polar landmass. Malignatius has an unusually slow rate of rotation, making a full day-night cycle lasting about 11 Urth days. 
Little is known of the initial colonization of Chaucha (Maligantius), but it is certain that the first settlers came from Holy Terra sometime between 2450 and 2550. According to local legends the initial colonists were private citizens who had pooled their resources to purchase settlement rights here to escape the First Republic. In 2908 the history of Malignatius begins in earnest, or anew, as House Li Halan conquered the planet and renamed it Malignatius. They tried for decades to unify the scattered settlements, but met with so fierce resistance that from the 2960s House Li Halan ignored the natives and concentrated on natural resources. Some of the vilest excesses of Li Halan courts happened on Malignatius, for here they were free to indulge their unholy appetites without repercussions. In 3194, Princess Theodora (3146-3232) released a bio-engineered virus that killed the livestock in the rural communities, and dedicated the victims of the famine as sacrifice to the demon Pangeren and other dark powers. Under House Li Halan, Malignatius became more urbanized and organized, attracting immigrants – especially groups of fringe faiths and persecuted cults while the Universal Church grew popular in distant rural communities. During the Second Republic, Malignatius became democratic bud could not compete with more prestigious neighboring worlds and the planet descended into poverty, and when The Fall came the vile Li Halan overlords returned with a vengeance. For four centuries Malignatius was again the playground for the evil house, but with the conversion of Prince Cardano to Urth Orthodoxy taxes were quartered, reforms introduced, and social services resurrected for the first time in centuries. Non-Orthodox religions, tolerated before, were now persecuted by the Universal Church. During the Emperor Wars Malignatius was initially involved only by supporting the Li Halan war effort with troops and munitions. But when House Li Halan focused its efforts on subjugating Rampart in 4991, Malignatius was left vulnerable, ripe for Decados conquest. House Li Halan counted on House al-Malik intervening to keep House Decados from gain another world, but when Countess Carmetha Decados invaded Criticorum with the Stigmata Garrison, House al-Malik was preoccupied defending Stigmata and Criticorum both. House Decados waltzed in took Malignatius with only halfhearted Li Halan opposition, but the local defense force fought fiercely, withdrawing into the wilderness to wage guerilla war for years. When Prince Flavius Li Halan gave up his attempt to seize the Phoenix Throne in 4992, combined Alexius and Li Halan forces attempt to retake Malignatius, but unable to pry the world from the Mantis grip. When Alexius’ peace came in 4995 the Malignatius defenders refused to surrender, and fought for another year before House Decados had finally defeated them. Even today scattered pockets of resistance fighters continue to oppose the Decados rule, many of them former Vorox commandos who fought for the Li Halan but have now gone feral. With Malignatius a Decados world, Church influence is dwindling and old heresies resurface. 
House Decados enforce their rule with an iron hand, aided by minor House Van Gelder who alternates as go-betweens with the locals and ‘problem solvers’. Malignatius is also rife with religious tension Incarnates, Preceptors, Zuranists, pockets of Manja cults, and other heresies abound. The Sanctuary Aeon, whose priests arrived to tend all wounded during the Emperor Wars, are tolerated yet distrusted by House Decados. Urth Orthodoxy is the ruling Sect, but those who remember its persecutions following House Li Halan’s conversion detest them. For nobles who incur Prince Hyram’s wrath exile to Malignatius is a feared punishment, and even worse are the gulags for dissidents and troublemakers, the worst being the subterranean gulag on Malignatius’ moon, Julka. The Free City of Khemta has become a refuge for wanted criminals of all kinds, technically beyond the law the denizens of this place value their independence.
22 million Humans and a small but growing number of feral Vorox reside on Malignatius. Some estimates have put the Vorox numbers as high as 100,000 and they represent a significant threat to landed Decados Lords. The Malignatians are seemingly innately religious, given to share their conviction with others with missionary zeal, while being tolerant to new faiths and converters alike. Decados cultures have been slow to settle outside the courts, and Li Halan, and even older cultures, thrives on Malignatius.

Pandemonium
Star: Hearthfire (bright yellow-white star)
System: Barloom (0.47AU), Sheen (0.8AU), Luck (1.7AU), Pandemonium (2.78AU, Flaxom, Floxom, Everlight), Farcry (44.23AU, 22 moons, Spacestation: Farcry Penal Station), Shiver (67.77AU), Jumpgate (77.3AU), Spacestation: Grange Station (123.1AU), Inoperable Jumpgate (123.4AU)
Jumps: Iver, Rampart, Apshai (warning: Vau world)
Capital: the Hub
Resources: slaves, ancient ruins
Exports: slaves

Important People
Count Enis Sharn Decados (born 4960): The count is the unfortunate ruler of Pandemonium, and despite his best efforts is failing at his job. Count Sharn ought to be beloved by his subjects, for his efforts on their behalf is nothing short of heroic, but the people still suffering and their fingers of disdain points to the top. By urging the population of Grange to flee to Gilgar City (the Hub), and maintaining the infrastructure to transport and care for them, the Count personally saved hundreds of thousands of lives. His assets are tied up in expensive relief programs, and what little remain goes to the protection of Manse Sharn. Lately, the pressure has begun to show and the Count shows signs of depression and sometime apathetic resignation.

Overview:
Post-terraforming cataclysms shake the planet, causing a breakdown in biomes and upheaval in the geology. Pandemonium is 70% land, once temperate but now mostly arid, with several inland seas (many created by the cataclysm). Large areas of grass and farmland have become desert, and woodlands recede from the equator, now huddling along the northern and southern polar regions.
When Grange (Pandemonium) was discovered (2717), it was a cold and dry rock with a fragile ecosystem and a hostile atmosphere. The world had little mineral or other resources, and the soil could not sustain large-scale cultivation. Anunnaki ruins were also scarce, and scholars speculated that Grange had suffered some colossal prehistoric war. Grange was therefore only sporadically settled, and was largely ignored for the remainder of the Diaspora and most of the Second Republic. But in 3799, the terraformer-genius Pardot-Franc Gilgar (3754-3847), Doramos the Worldshaper’s sole apprentice, announced his intention to transform the world into a garden paradise. Gilgar’s work began in 3802 and it took over 25 years to transform Grange from a perpetual sandstorm into a lush paradise. When Grange stood finished the world yielded fertile crops year round, and became a breadbasket for the Second Republic. Gilgar was celebrated as a Hero and the bounty of Grange may well have delayed the collapse of the Second Republic by a century or more. After Gilgar died, his descendants continued to bask in his fame, and by the mid-40th century they became House Gilgar with vast fiefs on Grange. But with the Fall, many factions eyed Grange with greed, and early in 4000 disgruntled terrorists managed to harm the system Jumpgate so that it closed. Grange continued as before, a virtual paradise where famine was a myth. Slowly, however, technology regressed, and only practical knowledge of advanced agriculture and medicine were maintained. In 4899, Count Vano Juandaastas who had received a jumpkey as a gift by the Vau rediscovered Grange. Local noble families resisted the House Juandastaas take-over, among them a small family proud of its Second Republic heritage, the (Grailite) al-Malik. The local houses al-Malik and Gilgar allied against the outsiders, and for decades battles raged with lawyers and soldiers for the planet’s ownership. In 4951, the native coalition, supported by House al-Malik, was victorious and drove House Juandaastas off the planet. Nevertheless, the ownership of Grange fell to an Istakhr noble, Baron Afil al-Malik, who drove the bountiful planet to financial ruin by hunting for un-reclaimed treasures across the world. Facing personal bankruptcy, Baron Afil resorted to selling Grange to an old friend, and current enemy, Count Enis Sharn Decados. Secret negotiations commenced, and in 4981 Duke Hakim al-Malik made the transfer legal and official. The very next year, the Merchant League accidentally discovered a second jumpgate in the Grange system, spurring years of legal wrangling over its ownership, but to the people of Grange it mattered little as disaster struck shortly thereafter. The great terraforming engines that supplied the paradise environment began to malfunction, causing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and extreme weather to ravage Grange. Count Enis Sharn summoned technicians to maintain the engines beneath the Gilgar City, and soon the capitol was the only safe place on the planet. Grange was renamed ‘Pandemonium’ Gilgar City ‘The Hub’. In 4994, the Merchant League gleaned new jump-coordinates from Pandemonium’s secondary jumpgate, opening the way to Iver. This brought more problems for Pandemonium as houses Decados, al-Malik, and Hazat, together with the League and Church, laid claim to the Lost World.
Pandemonium is a mess. Its total collapse of order, finances, and industry has been equaled to the Fall of the Second Republic. Corruption is ripe and Count Sharn is unable to efficiently govern the failing planet, and outside powers routinely arrive to plunder Pandemonium’s resources or ruin. Within the walls of the Hub, efforts are made to restore civilization, but too many people need too many handouts for official programs to be effective, although black market businesses thrives unscrupulously, and The Hub has become a center for the Muster slave trade. A Phoenix Order recruitment office and a tiny Imperial villa, constructed just out of town in 5009, have led to speculations that the Emperor is planning to assume control of Pandemonium should House Decados prove too be ineffective in ruling the broken world.
An estimated 580.000 humans live on Pandemonium, almost everyone living within or around The Hub. The world is even home to a colony of Ascorbites brought in from Severus to bolster the economy by providing effectively free labor. Very few members of high, or even middle class, society remain, and the gap between the count’s estate and his subjects is a vast gulf. Those within the city can count themselves lucky for access to The Hub is strictly regulated, and just outside the dreg survive on the scraps of merciful donations that the impoverished citizens of “the Circle” donate. The Universal Church re-established itself on Pandemonium in the late 4990s, constructing an oddly shaped great cathedral to St. Hombor in the Groaning Desert of the Badlands – a testament to the Pancreator’s perseverance and the faith of the pious.

Severus
Star: Solan (red star)
System: Vinoush’ok (0.73AU), Severus (1.34AU; Edenya), Svarog (5.13AU; Makosh, Svaroglich), Cronus (17.62AU, 12 moons), Fin-1 (32.18AU), Fin-2 (38.49AU), Jumpgate (51.68AU)
Jumps: Cadavus, Cadiz, De Moley
Capital: Tsaritsyn
Resources: fossil fuels, minerals, ore, precious metals 
Exports: minerals, medical tech, narcotics, politics

Important People
Prince Hyram Decados (born 4934): The cunning and manipulative leader of House Decados since 4966, Prince Hyram is considered an iron-fisted despot by his own supporters. His hospitality and festivities are the stuff of infamy; a true litany of decadence, but in the last decade the Mantis Prince has slowed down, sacrificing debauchery for scholarly pursuits and space exploration. Some whisper that he is seeking something and he frequently disappears for months at a time leaving house affairs to his aids. Some speculate that the Mantis Prince is a tired old man, whispered to be a Selchakah addict, his massive torso supported by cybernetic mantis-like legs that replaces his legs since a would-be assassin’s bullet severed his spinal cord in 4968.
Duchess Nadia Decados (born 4904): Duchess Nadia is head of the Jakovian Agency, the House Decados intelligence organization, which she rules from Jakovgrad, the regional capital of Rhodesland. She is over a century old and still strikingly attractive, thanks to a regimen of longevity treatments and her exceptionally skills in cybernetic aesthetics.
Earl Igor “the Metal Bear” Decados (born 4962): Igor, earl of Varangia, deserves his nickname, being big and covered from the neck down in skin-grafted plate-armor. He publically disdains non-Decados, especially al-Malik, but admits a grudging respect for Emperor Alexius I. Muster Chainer gangs and a bustling mining industry operates out of Earl Igor’s regional capitol Domovoy. The earl spends much time in the Great Hall of the Mantis training young Mantis Knights.

Overview:
Severus is hot, dark, and humid, the temperate polar regions blanketed in constant mist. Warm oceans and lakes cover over 80% of the surface, with the landmass divided into three continents (Carpathia, Leshiy, and Rhodesland) and a major Island chain (Voydanoy Archipelago). Most of the landscape is ancient jungle, with some mineral rich mountains and grassland. The low 15% axial tilt means seasonal variations are minimal, but ocean currents maintain a tropical temperature throughout.
Where the pre-human history of other sentient species is largely ignored, with the Ascorbites of Severus, it remains all but unknown as Ascorbites rarely speak of it and their writings are incomprehensible. But humanity cares little, and for most Severus’ history begins with its discovery by an independent corporation in 2610. A host of thousands of Ascorbites observed the new arrivals from afar before one day, amazingly, issuing a warning in stilted Urthish, “Beware the Amen’ta. They will devour your soft skin and your space vessel as well.” Two nights later, Amen’ta hull rats swarmed the camp and consumed ship and crew alike. The corporation couldn’t afford exploring the hostile planet and sold it to House Gloucester at a loss (2611). The fate of the initial explorers remained a mystery till 2760 when their remains were discovered and footage recovered which proved the Ascorbites sentient. By the 2810s, House Gloucester was crumbling, Severus and Cadiz their last holdings. They made overtures to House Hawkwood (2817), offering to be their vassals. But when Hawkwood diplomats arrived on Severus early in 2818, they were informed that Duke Antonin Decados and his brother Jakob, who had been House Gloucester’s security and intelligence ministers respectively, now ruled the Gloucester realms. House Hawkwood accepted the local transition of power, and House Decados was born. Severus welcomed refugees and outcasts from other worlds, offering a new start under Decados rule. During the Second Republic, Severus experienced mass immigration from central worlds as hordes of prospectors invaded in a lawless frontier mining bonanza. When the Fall came, independent Severus escaped the worst but some decline followed when several Decados worlds closed their jumpgates. A fierce Ascorbite civil war was also spilling onto Human region, and fear of Ascorbite invasion led independent communities to swear eternal fealty to the Mantis Banner, accepting Generational Contracts in exchange for protection. Especially the Ascorbites of Varangia (a Leshiy subcontinent) were hostile, raiding human settlements and killing thousands. House Decados evacuated its subjects and firebombed the subcontinent (4159), eradicating several Ascorbite cities, before resettling it with Human colonists. In-house conflicts were also frequent, culminating in the Great Assassins War of 4379, which killed almost 10% of the family. During the Emperor Wars, Severus was the backbone of Decados’ war-effort. In 4969 Hawkwood-backed terrorists bombed Hyram’s palaces and Jakovian intelligence traced the cell to Cadavus, leading to the Severus fleet conquering that League world the following year. In 4989, Prince Hyram aimed for the Phoenix Throne, pushing for Byzantium Secundus with a large Severus fleet, but Alexius countered with the Regency Fleet. A new attempt was planned to coincide with Countess Carmetha invading Criticorum with the Stigmata Garrison (4991), but the invasion was defeated before the plans could be put in motion. Hyram tried again in 4994, with the Decados-Hazat Siege of Jericho, but this was foiled as well, and Hyram abandoned his claim for the Phoenix Throne and concentrated on defending his realm. 
Most citizens of Severus off-world refugees and expatriates, or descendants of such tied to the Mantis banner through Generation Contracts. House Masseri used to oversee some minor Decados holdings here, but following their betrayal in 5007, this responsibility has been assumed by other vassal houses. Since Alexius’ ascendance, Severus has reestablished itself as a major mercantile power, and Charioteer businesses and Muster operations are thriving. The Ascorbites are quite, save for intertribal conflicts in northern Rhodesland and the Voydanoy Archipelag, free of overt warfare. Severus is enjoying a rare period of prosperity and peace. 
The Severan population, numbering 1.95 billion Humans, an estimated 30 million Ascorbites, displays a wealth of cultural sophistication. Even the lowliest peasant avidly follow the planetary news and entertainment media, keeping track of court developments, nobles’ vendettas, Ascorbite movements, weather forecasts, and fiction dramas. Off-world events concern the sober Severan serfs and freemen little, but the jovial Decados nobility interests all. The Universal Church is weak here, for although personal piety is common, faith is regarded as a private matter, with the clergy have no business in politics. Urth Orthodoxy is the biggest and most influential Sect, although all major sects are represented. Heresies are scarce on Severus, but in 4999 the Orthodox Father Berac’h Nicolyaic from Domovoy was arrested for trying to introduce the Second Coming heresy to his parish.