Stars Without Number: The Varlin Expanse

Varina Phi Marked

Map made very quickly in Hexographer.

One of the games on my back burner is a Stars Without Number game.  This is a map of my sector, semi-randomly generated by yours truly.  I’ve run exactly one session in this sector thus far, a heroic game on a night where only one player was able to make our normal Kaigan time.  I might tell that story another time, but for now I just will describe the main Polities (outlined in various colors on the map).

Silvas Corporate Space

Our first game tool place in this part of the sector, on the planet Silvas (02, 07).  Silvas has a fairly ineffectual planetary government that has been tied up and controlled by coporate interests for as far back as anyone can remember, resulting in a fairly Laissez-faire economy, mostly controlled by several large mega-corporations and a number of smaller sub-contractors and subsidiaries.

The planet Silvas was the first of the immediately local systems to recover from the science, and has since taken a dominant role in the trade of the nearby sectors, with Silvas corps having a large control over their neighbors modern economies, if not actually dejure control over their planetary governments.

Without oversight over their plans and R&D, it is rumored that some (if not all) Silvas corps are involved in not only pretech research, but maltech as well.  Still, various work can be found for enterprising individual even in the age of megacorps, many have use for the occasional contractor that is willing to take a job outside their normal operations, as well as “Deniable assets” for questionable ops.

The Orbis Empire

Claiming to be the rightful successors of the Terran Mandate, any principles of democracy the Mandate might have once held seem to have been abandoned long ago, instead ruled by a complicated hierarchy of nobility with the “Steward of the Mandate”, emperor in all but name, acting as the head.

Starting from their capital on Terra Minor (02,01), the empire began attempting to bring more worlds under its control from the moment it re-discovered spike drives, catching some planets before they had managed to re-develop sufficient tech to be able to fight back.  As more planets reached the current state of pretech, and orbital defenses and defensive stations were brought back online, the advance of the Empire has slowed.

Imperial space is highly regulated and monitored, and has the most warships of any Polity in the sector, but an aspiring adventurer can still make a fair living in Imperial credits if they know how to cut through the red tape and deliver goods at reasonable prices to the hungry citizens of the empire.  A skilled gun can make their way as a mercenary, or even an officer in the military if a stable career is their inclination.  For the less scrupulous type, the various nobles in the Empire always seem to be scheming something to get the better of their rivals, and often will pay an unconnected party handsomely for their part in their schemes.

The Free Planet Alliance

As Spike Drives returned to use in the Expanse, word of the Empire spread to nearby systems, with many fearing that they would be next.  The Free Planet alliance was formed out of that fear by several worlds right in the empire’s shadow.  The alliance is a loose confederation of Planets, united for their mutual protection and benefit, with a firm stance against further Imperial expansion.

Unfortunately, that stance is about all else they have in common, and tensions in the Alliance run rather high, many systems (perhaps rightly) fearing that as soon as the threat of the empire goes away, their “allies” of today will be tomorrow’s attempted conquerors.  Thus, while there is a strong incentive to build up military force in the planets of the Alliance, very few of the members want to risk USING it, for fear that their neighbors will capitalize on that weakness.  This hesitation to risk their own troops and the clamoring for advantage over their rivals is widely considered to be the primary reason one of their former member planets (04,01) is now under Empire control.

As most of the shipbuilding resources in the Alliance go toward building their warships, outside traders have an easy time finding work building up the slack.  That is, if they can avoid being accused of spies for another system.  Coincidentally, outside intelligence specialists also tend to find decent contract work in the FPA, both in spying on the Empire, and… other targets.

The Theocracy of the Guiding Light

Many believe the Guiding Light was a minor cult before the scream, however, in the time since it has become the single most prominent religion in the Expanse (although practicing it is officially banned in the Empire).  The Guiding Light believe that the universe itself has a divine will, and that MESS is a blessing from that divine will, given to humanity to guide them out of the darkness and into  new age of enlightenment. The meditative practices taught by the Guiding Light were also instrumental in the sector redeveloping basic psychic training methods, and, while some have attempted to remove the mysticism from them, all psychic disciplines in the sector have their roots in Guiding Light techniques.  To the faithful, the Theocracy promises reincarnation, which shall bless you with psychic powers if you act righteously in this life, leading up to a psychic lead paradise in harmony with the universe as beings of pure energy.

Much to the disdain of other polities, however, is that the Guiding Light also preaches psychic supremacy, and that the only valid government is a psychic lead government that is rooted in following the Divine will of the universe, and that such governments should all be united as one under the faith.  That is, any government that is not subservient to the Guiding Light is blasphemy against the universe, and further, violent revolution is not only justified, but demanded in the face of such blasphemy.  The Theocracy claims to be that government and consists of planets that have been successfully converted thus far.

Still, the Theocracy has fairly lenient trade policies so long as you are not shipping anything heretical, and even for non-psychics work can be fairly plentiful.  Theocracy Missionaries and aid packages also often pay more than standard fare for travel to other parts of the sector (although sometimes those aid packages are for what they government of the destination planet would call a “religious terrorist group”)

The Varlin Way

The Varlin way consists of the two known stars that connect the two halves of the sector together, without them, travel between the two parts would be impossible without pretech spike drives.  The two planets within Phrais (04, 04) and Mythis (04, 06), have both managed to stay fairly independent by leveraging their positions as trading hubs to convince the larger entities nearby that it would be in everyone’s best interest if they remain free trade planets.

Still, both the Empire and the FPA see the advantage in blocking their enemy from obtaining Silvas goods and eying Phrais, and both the Corps of Silvas and missionaries of the Theocracy have been attempting to establish stronger roots on Mythis.  If any of these planets fall into the hands of one faction or another, it will give the holder significant control over the trade that passes through the sector.

Current PaDC score: 25/31