Monday, 30 April 2012

A to Z: Z is for Zoni

The Zoni are a Minor Race native to the planet Lur in the Nolgor Subsector of the RimWorlds Sector. Bipedal crustaceanoids, the Zoni have, at times, proven to be implacable enemies of Imperial expansion through Nolgor Subsector, delaying the Imperial advance across the Perrsherrik Rift and hampering Sector Duke Kolin II’s initial campaign of the 1st Rimward War in the early 550’s.

The Zoni have proved difficult to study and discourage visitors to their inner system and home world. They appear to move through cycles of quiescence, followed by periods of raiding, and then full blown invasion of surrounding space. It is believed that the Zoni population is divided amongst a number of Hives or lineages. These are engaged in a perpetual power struggle for dominance. As the overall Zoni population increases, the need to demonstrate prowess and superiority encourages Hives to send out raiding parties. As the conflict between the Hives intensifies, full scale war breaks out. The sudden explosion of Zoni warfleet activity in the volume of space around Lur is both linked to this period of warfare, and symptomatic of less successful lineages attempting to find new resource centres away from the home system. Following a period of warfare, the Zoni population suffers a massive die off that can persist for decades or centuries until the next cycle of population growth and conflict begins.

It is believed that the Shenni population of Shenn is actually a Zoni Hive that successfully established itself in the deep desert region prior to the arrival of the Theocrats of Lotarf. From what little has been learned of the reclusive Shenni, it would appear they share similar physiological and societal patterns to the Zoni of Lur.

The last major Zoni incursion into Imperial Space occurred between 1090 and 1095 and is known as the Zoni Wars. Prior conflicts in the mid 6th Century and the mid 8th Century had lead scientists to speculate that the Zoni population reaches a crisis point every two centuries or so. Unfortunately, the peace in 1095 was the result of negotiation, not victory over the Zoni. As rogue states such as Naos VI had been supplying illegal technology to the Hives, there is a real fear that another eruption of Zoni raiding is imminent and that the Zoni will be a much greater threat to Imperial worlds than hitherto.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A to Z: Y is for Yacht

The Yacht is an executive or private starship, not dependent upon trade to cover its operational costs. The basic Yacht from Traveller Book 2 is built on a 200 ton hull and is capable of Jump-1 and 1-G acceleration. It carries sufficient fuel to make two successive Jump-1’s. There are 14 staterooms aboard – two of which have been combined into a master cabin for the owner. Straight off the slips, there is one hardpoint installed, but no weaponry. There are three ship’s vehicles: an air/raft, a 30 ton ship’s boat and an All Terrain Vehicle. As the Yacht is unstreamlined, the ship’s boat is fitted out to carry the ATV to a planet’s surface and back again to the ship in orbit. An 11 ton cargo bay is also included – which could make for a rather large wine cellar if required.

With a crew of four - pilot, engineer, medic and steward – and with the steward handling the driving duties for the ship’s boat, ATV and air/raft - there is room for nine, single occupancy, passengers aboard. At MCr 51 and change, the Yacht isn’t actually too bad value for money.

Apart from a glorified party bus, why would anyone want such a ship?

I have discussed, in prior posts, one of the basic premises of Traveller – that there is no Faster than Light communication. If one were a noble, or a corporation, with holdings or interests in other systems, at some stage each year one is probably going to need to send the auditors around each of the estates or local offices to count all the pencils. A ship, like the standard Yacht, would function excellently as a mobile office for the duration of the audit.

Alternatively, the CEO/Sector Manager/Owner might use the Yacht as a mobile headquarters while making a tour of inspection of company officers and divisions.

The only drawback with the ship design as described is the one parsec Jump range. This pretty much limits the ship’s operational range to a Main or Cluster. Admittedly, the Yacht can make two successive Jump-1’s so it is possible for it to cross gaps between systems or Mains, though at the cost of extra time taken for the voyage.

As with most things in Traveller, as soon as players and Games Masters began playing around with the rules and scenarios, adaptations and modifications to existing designs began to appear. Like almost anything else, the concept remained the same while the actual specifics changed over time.

Yachts tend to remain in the 150 – 250 ton displacement range, though some have their Jump Drives uprated to Jump-2 or Jump-3 – especially if they’re built at higher Tech Levels. This is because component size, such as the tonnage required for each parsec of Jump from a Jump Drive, declines as Tech Level increases, granting more bang for each credit.

Usually, the number of passengers stays about the same as 7 – 9 seems a good number for an entourage. Sometimes, extra bodyguards, or other staff, are included on the crew manifest; though this depends on how much trouble it is assumed the party will get itself into.

Having the players start on a yacht can be a great way of dropping them directly into an adventure.

Friday, 27 April 2012

A to Z: X is for X-Boat

Previously, I have mentioned that in Traveller star travel is by Jump; each Jump is from 1 to 6 parsecs; and that each Jump takes one week during which the starship is isolated in its own little bubble of space/time. I have also discussed that one of the attractions of the Traveller Universe is the “age of sail” feel – there is no faster-than-light communication, messages move at the speed of the fastest ship heading in the approximate direction that the sendee wishes the message to go.

 The 3rd Imperium – the default Traveller campaign Universe – is big. It contains something like 11,000 inhabited systems. As an exercise, and to better demonstrate to a reader of this blog who was curious, I did some rough calculations on a large scale map of the Imperium and estimated that it would take approximately 80 weeks for a ship to travel from the Imperial Capital to the frontier Sector of the Spinward March. This represents a round trip of over two years for a message from Capital to reach the frontier and return – if that’s your mum you’re writing to, you’d better say a bit more than, “I am well. I hope you are well, too.”

Most of the Major Races in Traveller realised pretty early on that communication is what holds Empires together. The 3rd Imperium developed the X-Boat Network (X for Express) which, through a fleet of dedicated messenger Jump Boats and tenders, branches out and across all subsectors in Imperial Space. Most of the other major polities - the Hivers, the Zhodani,and the K'kree - have developed their own equivalent courier services. The Aslan, given the fragmented nature of their political structure (a confederation of clans) have messenger services within clan territories, but rely upon more haphazard arrangements for external communications.

The Imperial X-Boat is an odd little tear-drop shaped starship, as shown above at the top of the page, being little more than a J-4 drive, a fuel tank, a massive mail server, and a cramped crew area. The X-Boat can Jump up to four parsecs, but lacks a manoeuvre drive so is completely helpless when it enters Real Space. Tender ships patrol the outer Jump Zones of all systems on the X-Boat route. As soon as an X-Boat drops down into Real Space, it announces its arrival and attempts to lock onto the Tender. If the X-Boat has sufficient fuel for the next leg of its trip, the Tender stands off; otherwise, the Tender will pick up the X-Boat for servicing, crew rotation and fueling. As soon as Lock-on is achieved, the X-Boat’s Mail Server downloads its contents to the tender, which sorts the mail according to destination, archives it and up-loads it, as well as any local mail, to all outbound X-Boats, including the new arrival if it is heading onwards. In theory, if the X-Boat has sufficient fuel to make another Jump, the entire process from Drop Down, to server dump, to upload, to Jump takes as little as ten minutes, but usually under an hour.

X-Boats follow X-Boat routes. On the map of Lanth Subsector, as seen above, the X-Boat route is the green line snaking down from Dinoma in hex 0302, through Ghandi, the subsector capital Lanth, D'Ganzio, Ivendo, before splitting. One branch heads to Trailing via Equus into Rhylanor Subsector, while the other branch heads Rimward via Icetina into Mora Subsector. Each of the systems on this route has either an A or B Class Starport (the letters above the dot representing the world indicate the class of the main starport of the system) as A Class and B Class starports have both the best facilities, and the best infrastructure. A message downloaded in one of the systems on this route would then be transferred to a local merchant ship with a mail contract and then passed to the destination world as the mail ship completes its route.

The X-Boat system is claimed to be derived from the ancient Pony Express system as used on Earth in the Nineteenth Century, and on other planets at later dates, though why someone would use a business model 3,000 years old by the time of the 3rd Imperium has never been successfully explained. The emblem and shoulder patch of the X-Boat service is shown above - a messenger riding a poni - and, it is claimed, that this emblem can be traced back to the original mail service.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A to Z: W is for Water World

A Water World conjures up an image of an ocean that stretches on forever. In Traveller, a planet with a Hydrographic Percentage of A, or 100% is termed a “Water World”. Interestingly, a Hydrographic Percentage of A actually covers a range of values between 90% and 100% so our empty ocean may actually have small islands scattered across it – as long as they cover less than 10% of the planet’s surface.

What of the inhabitants of such a Water World? If we assume that they are air-breathers, possible inhabitants might live on ships or on rafts or in floating cites, endlessly following the ocean currents. Equally, the inhabitants could live in undersea domed cities, using submersibles or crawlers to harvest sea life or extract resources from the sea bed and deep sea subduction zones. Perhaps, the inhabitants are either like seabirds or have seabird-like gliding technology and circumnavigate the planet, going from lonely outcrop to lonely outcrop in an endless cycle, hunting and fishing as they soar and swoop across the long, slow ocean swells.

Perhaps the inhabitants are amphibious or aquatic, living partially or totally beneath the waves, either able to breath both above and below the water, or living fully beneath the sea. Would a semi-aquatic or fully aquatic species be able to develop technology? Or would they be a race of philosophers, working out deep and complex equations and theories and debating them back and forth in mile-spanning booms and clicks and cheeps? Would they speculate on the nature of the stars and life on other planets as they float beneath the summer skies or would their observational sciences be swiftly overtaken by speculation and mythology if they lack the means to conduct experiments? Could an amphibious race develop smelting and metal working on the little outcrops of rock and tiny islands dotted across the world ocean?

Kevin Costner famously made a movie called “Water World” which was a bit of a career wrecker – Mad Max on jet skies - and proved that throwing a squillion dollars at a bad story does not make for a good movie, even if it contains good ideas. J. G. Ballard’s novel, “The Drowned World”, looked at life in post-Global Warming London and is an example of how humans might adapt to a major change in climate and sea level, while Jules Verne’s famous novel, “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”, examined life aboard a submersible craft.

Water Worlds can provide a very different environment in which to adventure – both like and unlike outer space with all its associated issues for air breathers. And there are many ways to approach the development of such planets, and the cultures and species that might evolve on or colonise such environments, from the fairly familiar to the completely exotic.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A to Z: V is for VRF Gauss Gun

A cryogenically cooled, rapid fire support weapon, the VRF Gauss gun fires a 4 mm, 4 gram needle bullet to velocities of 4500 metres per second with an effective rate of fire of 4000 rounds per minute …Traveller Book 4 Mercenary.

Very much like modern weapon systems such as the Phalanx, the VRF Gauss Gun has a 30,000 round ammunition bay, loaded from 1000 round hoppers. For Cr 200,000 this little buzzsaw can be yours. At Tech Level 10, the VRF Gauss Gun puts all other support weapons out of business and, unlike weapon systems like the Phalanx or the Vulcan, the Gauss Gun only weighs two tons.

Like the smaller Gauss Rifle, the VRF Gauss Gun is an electromagnetic linear accelerator, using a series of magnetic coils to accelerate the 4 mm needle. With no propellant to burn, one would think that a Gauss Rifle should be silent when fired – making it the perfect sniper weapon. It was pointed out to me years ago that these bullets are travelling at multiples of the speed of sound, so one would assume that one would hear a crack, or multiple cracks as the bullet exits the barrel of the weapon at supersonic speeds. I’m not a ballistics guy, so I only assume that this is correct – makes a nice effect, though.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A to Z: U is for Uplift

“Uplift” is a term used to describe guided or forced evolution and is a concept found in the science fiction novels of David Brin, as well as explored in the on-line Universe-creation project, “Orion’s Arm”. Generally, Uplift involves the genetic development or transformation of animals into an intelligent species by an already intelligent species.

Uplift is, I feel, one of those species origin tools that should be used sparingly – unless you are running an Uplift game, of course. Otherwise, like the Ancients in the Official Traveller Universe, Uplift becomes the default setting to explain a species’ evolution which, in turn, encourages lazy thinking.

I have used Uplift only once in my RimWorlds Campaign, in the detailing of the H’ran – a rather aggressive lizard-like or crocodilianoid species. I postulated that the H'ran had been Uplifted specifically as assault troops by and for the, now long defunct, Thongaloros Empire. The demise of the Empire, under pressure from invaders entering the RimWorlds via the Whisp Route, had left the H’ran in control of some Empire fleet elements. Much like the sentient Autowars in Orion's Arm (sentient, self-replicating warmachines), the H'ran continued to follow their underlying programming - securing and protecting as much of the old Empire as they could.

The H’ran were able to carve out a reasonable sized Pocket Empire, but then stagnated as they lacked the technological knowledge to maintain their starships. Fortunately for the H'ran, they conquered the Gherlach - a less aggressive, but more tech savvy reptilian species. Eventually, the Gherlach took over so much of the running of the H'ran State and the larger Klarthur Confederacy (of which the H'ran State was the most powerful member) that, in effect, the slave caste had become the new ruling caste of the Confederacy.

Monday, 23 April 2012

A to Z: T is Traveller

What is Traveller? Is Traveller the rules system, or is Traveller the setting? This is a debate that crops up from time to time on various discussion boards.

If Traveller is the rule system, then which rule system is Traveller? Classic Traveller, published in 1977, and still my favourite version; MegaTraveller, published in 1986 and including the Task System developed by Digest Group Publications; Traveller: the New Era, published in 1992; Mark Miller’s Traveller (also known as T4), published in 1996; GURPs Traveller, published in 1998, adapted Traveller to the GURPs 3rd Edition rules; Traveller 20 (or T20), published in 2002, adapted Traveller to the D20 system; GURPs Traveller: Interstellar Wars, published in 2006, adapted Traveller to the GURPs 4th Edition Rules; Traveller Hero, published in 2006, adapted Traveller to the Hero System; Traveller 5 (also known as T5), CD-Rom released in 2008 as a “play test document”, and Marc Miller’s latest working of the rules – still in development; Mongoose Traveller, published in 2008 and the latest version of the rules.

I have managed to pick up most of these rule books over the years. I still enjoy Classic Traveller as it is the system I know the best. I liked GURPs Traveller as a concept, and GT has some of the best support material written for the game, but find aspects of the GURPs system very clunky and annoying. I like Mongoose Traveller a lot, as it marks a return to a lot of the stripped-down simplicity of the Classic Traveller rules. I find Mongoose’s continued production faults increasingly irritating, though – if I’m shelling out $NZ30 - $NZ40 for a rule book or supplement, I expect it to be proof read, and I expect it to be edited by someone with a vague understanding of Traveller and the Traveller setting. Traveller 20 had a very interesting setting, but I really don’t like the D20 system – it’s too much like Dungeon and Dragons for my taste, which doesn’t work, in my opinion, in a Science Fiction game. Of the others, while each seems to have its fans, I have never played them.

At the end of the day, it appears that the best version of the Traveller rules is the one you feel most comfortable with. For me, I want a system where the mechanics are easy to remember, there’s a bit of on-line support with apps for designing ships, characters, star maps and systems, and the mechanics don’t get in the way of the story telling.

If Traveller isn’t the rules, but the setting, then which setting? The original Classic Traveller rules had no setting – you could do anything you liked. Later, what is now called the ‘Golden Age’ of Traveller formed the backdrop – the 3rd Imperium in the year 1105, on the eve of the 5th Frontier War with the Zhodani Consulate. MegaTraveller took the 3rd Imperium and destroyed it, and then nuked the ruins with a sentient computer virus called, (drum roll, please ...) Virus. The blurbs on all the material were so gor-blimey that for years I couldn’t take the MegaTraveller or Traveller: The New Era settings seriously. Some of the material, like “Path of Tears” is well written, evocative, and incredibly depressing, and some of the material, like “Vampire Fleets”, is creepy in a haunted-house/2001: A Space Odyssey sort of way, and immanently stealable for other games but, on the whole, left me with a feeling of “meh”.

The setting for Traveller: The New Era attempted to put the wonder of exploration back into the Traveller Universe, but it is a story of re-contact and rediscovery as the characters shuffle through the ruins of fallen empire. GURPs Traveller sidesteps the entire rebellion storyline and carries on with the same-old, same-old. With T4, Marc Miller was quite clever and decided to go back in time to examine the birth of the 3rd Imperium. This was a gentler way of gaming exploration and first contact than picking through the bone worlds of Traveller: The New Era. Traveller T20 explored the Solomani Rim War period, but set in the Gateway Sector – an Imperial backwater looking out over a turbulent neutral zone towards the alien K’kree. This is a fascinating area of space, and some excellent adventures were set here, often with both T20 and Classic Traveller stats. GURPs Traveller: Interstealler Wars explores humanities’ initial encounters with the Vilani Imperium. Finally, Mongoose Traveller has taken the setting back to 1105 and the “Golden Age” – though to date, Mongoose has concentrated pretty much on rewriting Classic Traveller material rather than contributing new material.

So, if Traveller isn’t about rules or setting, and we have seen that rules and settings can change, then what is it about?

The two consistent things about Traveller are that there is no faster-than-light communication, and that Jumps last approximately one week. The best description of what Traveller is comes from the little black box that the little black books came in, way back in 1977. Traveller is “science fiction adventure in the far future”.

The Department released

I received my pdf copy of this much anticipated game around the middle of last week. Having been flat out at work and with the A to Z Blogging Challenge I haven't really had time to more than flick through the rules, but I like what I see.

As readers of my original post on The Department will recall, this game is a science fiction film noir police procedural skirmish game, drawing inspiration from films such as Blade Runner and I, Robot, TV programmes such as Law and Order and video games such as Syndicate.

The Department uses the Goalsystem rules mechanism developed by Scott Pyle of the Four-Colour Figures blog and most recently seen in the Blasters and Bulkheads ruleset. The Department rule book will be available from here. The first of a range of 15mm scale figures were shown on TMP recently, and will be produced by Effigy Miniatures.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A to Z: S is for Sector Duke

A Sector Duke is the Duke in charge of a Sector. This is a title that, in my opinion, arose as Traveller – the roleplaying game – ran into Traveller – the roleplaying game setting.

As I have stated before, originally in Traveller – the roleplaying game – there was no formal background setting. Every Games Master was free to create whatever Universe they liked and then get on and have fun in it. The sixth characteristic that defines a character’s physical and mental existence within the game is called Social Status and in Traveller – the roleplaying game – there is a small section that states that a character with a Social Status of 11 or higher is a noble, and then gives a list of ranks up to 15 – Duke/Duchess. This section then goes on to say, “Ranking above duke/duchess are two levels not reflected in social standing: prince/princess or king/queen are titles used for actual rulers worlds. The title emperor/empress is used by the ruler of an empire of several worlds” – Traveller Book 3: Worlds and Adventures pg 22.

Strangely enough, Traveller Book 3: Worlds and Adventures also includes an 8 hex by 10 hex map sheet and the discussion on mapping the universe describes this map as a “subsector”. The connection between the “map” and boardgames (the creators of Traveller had released a space war boardgame called “Dark Nebula” just prior to the release of Traveller) is rather obvious, and the two-dimensional mapping of space has been one of Traveller’s endearing quirks ever since – even if it drives hard science-fiction aficionados nuts.

Within a year or so of the release of Traveller in 1977, the concept of the Third Imperium spanning 11,000 worlds was firmly established, and with it the rather vague idea that the Imperium was subdivided into Sectors (a term with a very long association with science fiction). Around the same time, or a little later, each Subsector came to be ruled by a Duke. By the early-to-mid 80’s, the concept of Sector Dukes seems to have been established and then we see the division of the Imperium into Domains under Arch-Dukes and the information that the Sector Duke is actually the most powerful, or the most popular, of the Subsector Dukes within each sector.

The implication of the later concept was that whichever Subsector Duke could muster enough support would then be confirmed as sector Duke by both his/her peers and the Emperor. This “democratic” feudalism initially struck me as rather odd until I began to do some reading on Medieval German History and the History of the Holy Roman Empire.

Thus, when I came to form the ideas behind how my Traveller campaign area – the RimWorlds – was settled, I already had the concept of comitatus. The driving force behind the establishment of the RimWorlds, Kolin Venuraski, was a scion of a Noble House in the Spinward March. Seeing the opportunity to establish settlements in a newly mapped area of space, he gathered relatives and friends – usually siblings of heirs to various titles – who either had resources, or access to resources, and little opportunity to use them.

With this initial comitatus gathered around him, Kolin Venuraski was able to accumulate further resources, build the deep space refuelling stations that enabled colony ships to cross Rifts, and launch the colonisation of the RimWorlds. As the momentum of settlement grew, Venuraski was able to secure Imperial recognition of both his colonisation effort, and his position as first Sector Duke of the RimWorlds. This in turn, gave him the ability to distribute patronage and continue to attract resources and people to his comitatus.

Anyone interested in reading about this part of the History of the RimWorlds is welcome to peruse the history section of my campaign notes here, under the Imperial History link at the top of the page.

Friday, 20 April 2012

A to Z: R is for Rift

A Rift is an area of low stellar density. Rifts act as impediments to interstellar travel in that starships with short range Jump Drives find it difficult to cross them. The chief reason for this is a lack of fuel sources in the Rift.

As Jump Drives require hydrogen as fuel to operate, Jump Drive-equipped starships tend to jump from star system to star system, refueling at a local gas giant (fuel skimming) or planet with free standing water, if they possess on-board fuel refineries, or from local starports. It is possible to extend a ship’s range by carrying extra fuel-tankage, either externally in a drop tank, or internally as a refrigerated and pressurised bladder rigged in the cargo bay.

External tanks increase the mass of the ship, and reduce the efficiency of its Jump Drive. The usually method of operation when using drop tanks is for the ship to use its external fuel load for its initial jump, discarding the, now empty, external tanks as it transits to Jump Space. Upon returning to Normal Space, the ship will use its internal fuel load to make a subsequent Jump. While there are pros and cons with using this Jump method, it does extend the range of the ship while increasing the running costs in expendable tankage. The Gazelle Class Close Escort is a small warship that uses this method of operation. It is relatively unusual to come across a civilian vessel using Drop Tanks, unless it is working a regular route with some form of government subsidy.

The use of a fuel bladder rigged in the cargo bay is the other method for extending the range of a starship. The most obvious disadvantage in this method is that the more fuel carried, the less room there is for cargo, and the less likelihood that a particular voyage will cover costs. This method is commonly used by short range starships wishing to move between Mains or Clusters to follow the trade. The ship will leave its current Main and jump to a point in Deep Space. The ship’s fuel tanks are then refilled by pumping the hydrogen slurry from the bladder in the cargo bay into the tanks. Once the refueling is complete, the ship Jumps to its destination.

Rifts, by their nature, funnel trade and travel and, if sufficiently wide, make for relatively secure borders. Ships that can cross Rifts will command a premium as to go around the Rift can add months to travel time. Systems astride Rift crossing points tend to either be tense conflict zones or heavily defended as neighbouring polities attempt to control the choke point.

In the Rimward portion of the RimWorlds, there are two major Rifts: the Perrsherrik Rift and the Uedhkinthuez nakhae. While neither is anything close to the vastness in size of the Great Rift that isolates the Spinward March, both Rifts have had effects on the way trade and populations have moved in the RimWorlds.

The Perrsherrik Rift is a Jump 3 Rift running 13 parsecs to Trailing from the Tallu Cluster in Lymethius Subsector to Lotarf/Nolgor. This Rift effectively divides Gamelea and Nolgor Subsectors in two, and delayed Imperial expansion Rimward for decades. Jump 3 crossings can be made at Leminkainen – Anthorann, Leminkainen - Kalath, Solaris – Gilanda, Solaris – Xcothal and Thrisk – Lotarf. Only the Leminkainen – Anthorann, Leminkainen – Kalath and Thrisk – Lotarf routes have proved commercially viable, and the Thrisk – Lotarf route has fallen under the control of the Theocrats of Lotarf.

In the Cabria Subsector, the Uedhkinthuez nakhae ("The Black Beast" in Arrghoun – the language of the Vargr of the Hunt of Rronurl) is a Rift running 9 parsecs to Rimward from Gyffd and Gaidon in Cabria Subsector into Kfukskho Subsector. The main crossing point is at Yuar, a Droyne world. The Yuar Droyne run a regular Carryall service from Yuar to Brol, Nutharal and either Juchis or Gyven’s World – a Carryall is a massive spar with an oversized Jump Drive and anchor points for up to a dozen ships in the 200 – 400 ton range. The smaller ships are effectively carried as cargo by the Carryall. The Droyne service is prone to cancellation with little notice for particularly inscrutable Droyne reasons.

During the Outrim Wars, the Uedhkinthuez nakhae saved the Imperial-held Miazan Subsector from the worst of the Outrim Alliance’s initial assaults as the Alliance’s fleets had to either stage through the Hunt of Rronurl to Rimward, or move Coreward through Gyffd before they could engage Imperial targets. Even when Yuar sided with the Alliance, it took time for the Carryalls to bring sufficient of the slower Alliance ships across the Uedhkinthuez nakhae to open a front.

While rumours abound of secret Deep Space refuelling stations being built or established on wandering planetoids, deep in the Rifts, there has been no evidence that such facilities exist.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A to Z: Q is for Quer'lharto

Quer'lharto Psion (Uhul)The Quer'lharto are a Minor Race descended from large nocturnal avianoid ground hunters. First encountered as prisoners of the Vargr of Suarya by Imperial Scout Antheas Golus in 832, the origins of the Quer'lharta remained obscure. The Vargr had acquired their prisoners from traders to Rimward as status symbols and exotica, but had little interest in where their homeworld was located.

Nearly a century after her first encounter with the Quer’lharto, Antheas Golus, having rescued and befriended the elderly Quer’lhar Ishrehk Rahkhar, finally located Klarekhek, the Quer’lhar birthworld.

She discovered a decaying technological society that had torn itself apart sometime in the mid 7th Century. Part of the population had left the planet, following a charismatic spiritual leader called Lherakhar Irrek. The Irrekites progression swiftly splinted after his death and his followers scattered, some eking out a living as mercenaries, others as labourers, but all apparently losing the wish or the will to return home.

Of those that remained behind on Klarekhek, most had abandoned their cities and returned to the countryside. Quer'lharta society, Antheas Golus discovered, had suffered an enormous trauma that had broken kin links and lineages. This trauma appeared to have its origins in the rise of a Psionic caste of leaders, both spiritual and political.

Golus’ studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Sarkul Wars and the near-collapse of the RimWorlds Sector.

And somewhere out in the wilderness beyond the rim of the Imperium, the Quer’lharto are still trying to make sense of their society and why it collapsed.

Note: The figure pictured above is a Uhul, sculpted by Eli of I See Lead People and cast by I have modified it by giving it a Force Sword – an energy sword similar to a light sabre.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A to Z: P is for Puranthea Malathu

Festivals are a time of celebration in all cultures. Prior to Christmas 2011, ChrisK on Dropship Horizon suggested a mini-campaign idea which he called ‘The Christmas War’. I liked the idea, and wondered how I might do a ‘Christmas’ conflict in my Traveller Universe. It was then that the Festival of Puranthea Malathu was born and was written up in the Library Data as this:

Puranthea Malathu
Annual Kalar-Wi political-religious festival observed for a seven day from day 359 and recalling the birth of Malathu’kal Sourka, the first Warlord of Kalar-Wi who united the clans and turned them outwards into space. Traditionally, a time when Kalar-Wi military units stand down and celebrate their lineage and battle honours.

The Kalar-Wi are, as I have mentioned, consummate warriors with a long tradition of honour, and honourable behaviour. Theirs is also a very Spartan and serious culture, not much given to the arts except in what they might teach the warrior, either in battle skills, or in examples of honourable behaviour. It seemed fitting that when they do relax, the Kalar-Wi celebrate the life of one of their own who united them and lead them outwards to glory amongst the stars.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A to Z: O is for Outrim Wars

The Outrim Wars are a series of four wars fought along the Spinward borders of Miazan, Gamelea and Daltharmai Subsectors as Imperial expansion to Spinward in the RimWorlds Sector has run into an increasingly resistant alliance of small, non-Imperial polities.

1st Outrim War 925 – 930
In the face of rising resistance, Imperial forces launched an attack upon the Geithurian Republic in Lymethius Subsector. After some initial successes, the war bogged down. In 929 Sector Duke Leonid II was killed at Jul’ni/Lymethius. As the Imperial Fleet was wracked by mutinies, his successor, Leonid III, arranged a hasty peace.

2nd Outrim War 954 – 962
Seeking to avenge the death of his father, Sector Duke Alexuv II, brother and successor to Leonid III, began preparations for a second campaign against the Outrim Alliance. Upon his sudden death in 954, just weeks into the campaign, his son Karl succeeded to both the Sector Duchy and to leadership in a war that he had little understanding of. The sudden succession caused a command crisis as Karl switched the main theatre of operations from Daltharmai Subsector to Gamelea Subsector. Following his grandfather’s invasion plan, Sector Duke Karl took Jul’ni/Lymethius, but was killed in the Alliance counterattack.

This war was to claim the lives of four members of Alexuv’s family – Alexuv, himself; his sons Karl and Leonid IV; and Leonid’s son Joln-Karl – as well as the careers of two Sector Admirals and five Fleet Admirals. In 962, Sector Duke Alexuv III, son of Leonid III, concluded a peace with the Outrim Alliance that restored the pre-war borders. Major weaknesses in the Imperial Armed Forces, and particularly the command structure, were identified – some dating from the mutinies in 930 and others due to weak oversight of the officer corps – and Alexuv’s reforms were to stand the Imperial Navy in good stead over the next forty years.

3rd Outrim War 1025 – 1038
The Imperial colonisation of Auru/Lymethius alarmed the Geithurian Republic. While the Geithurians were actively attempting to revive the Outrim Alliance, they launched a massive shipbuilding programme. This, in turned, alarmed the Imperium. The assassination of Sector Duke Mah’radys I at Auru unleashed a raider war as Geithurian forces attacked into Gamelea Subsector and Huiha Esoyatre forces battled the Kalar-Wi. Other Alliance task groups eventually crossed the Uedhkinthuez nakhae Rift and swept into Miazan Subsector. The Imperial forces could beat the Alliance Fleets, but they couldn't stop the raiders and commando units. After their initial successes, the Alliance discovered that they could seize low population worlds but could not take high population worlds. Eventually, the Alliance forces were worn down by Yuri Sethlemarl, Admiral in Command, Celephais/Miazan’s policy of Hold and Wait. A negotiated peace brought the war to a close in 1038.

4th Outrim War 1080 – 1085
It was brought to the attention of the President of the Geithurian Republic that there had been an alarming increase in the number of secessionist movements on various Republican worlds over the preceding decade. It was later revealed that this was part of a plan by Imperial Intelligence to force the Geithurian Republic into a war they were not ready for and let them wreck their Navy against prepared Imperial positions. The political implosion in the aftermath of such loses, it was reasoned, would tear the Republic apart and allow the Imperium to absorb systems at leisure. The death of the Sector Duke and the Duke of Gamelea in quick succession almost derailed the plan as the new Sector Duke, Edenar of Nolgor was much more cautious than his predecessor. Dragging on longer than planned, the 4th Outrim War eventually ended in an Imperial victory, largely due to Imperial Intelligence persuading the Kalar-Wi to reactivate their alliance with the Imperium and enter the war. While the Geithurian Republic was not destroyed outright, it was paralysed from within by dissention. With one of the driving forces of the Outrim Alliance neutralised, the Alliance itself lost focus and direction.

Four different campaigns, each with a slightly difference twist, that have influenced the current Border Worlds area of the RimWorlds.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A to Z: N is for Noble

The Official Traveller Universe views the 3rd Imperium as a quasi-feudal political structure. There’s an Emperor, and a bunch of nobles, and then the planetary governments. Basically, the system, as described, is a monster-mash mess of Space Opera feudal romanticism and a late Twentieth Century Western Political World View terrified of concentrated power.

I think this mess came about because parts of the structure – the planetary governments – were designed before the in-house test game became the “Official” background.

The basic main world creation rules from LBB Traveller Book 3 assign a governmental system to each planet based on a roll of two six-sided dice on a table of results. The number rolled on the two dice can be modified by the population of the planet. This has a neat effect in that as the population rises, the governmental structure moves across the political spectrum from Anarchy to Totalitarianism, indicating that as societal interactions become more complex, governmental complexity also increases to cope with all the issues that a growing population needs resolving. This has the side-effects of constraining the amount of individual involvement in the political process, as well as curbing individual freedoms through the increase in associated Law Level.

For a fast-and-dirty Politics 101 structure, this game mechanic works well and immediately gives the Games Master a basic feel for what a particular planetary society is like.

Two things have remained constant through every version of Traveller. A Jump takes one week, whether you are moving one parsec or six parsecs (I looked at Jump Drives in my previous post on the letter J), and there is no Faster-than-Light Communication. Immediately, we have a game universe that is an Interstellar equivalent of Earth in the Age of Sail. If the Emperor wants to communicate with the Duke of Bladiblah, he has to record the message, put it on a starship heading towards Bladiblah (and being Emperor does have its advantages here, he has access to both Imperial Couriers and the Imperial Navy to carry his messages), and then wait for it to reach Bladiblah, the Duke to read it and respond, and the response to travel all the way back to the Emperor.

As the 3rd Imperium contains something like 11,000 systems, the frontiers of the Spinward March (one of the earliest official campaign settings) are something like a year’s travel time from the Imperial capital, or a two-year round trip. This is equivalent to the travel times involved in administering most of the major historical Naval Empires – the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British – and many of the land Empires, such as the Russian, the Mongol, the Moghul, and the Roman, on Earth.

In all cases, Empires coped with the lag in communication by creating administrative sub-units. These sub-units were administrated by local commanders, acting with the delegated authority of the central government. In many cases, these administrative posts became hereditary and either created administrative dynasties, or passed into the hands of existing dynastic power groups. In the Official Traveller Universe, the 3rd Imperium is divided into seven Domains – Deneb, Vland, Antares, Sylea, Gateway, Ilelish, and Sol – each under an Archduke. Each Domain consists of four Sectors – each under a Sector Duke – and each Sector consists of 16 Subsectors – under a Subsector Duke.

Nobility can be hereditary or awarded for service – honour nobles. We are familiar with honour nobles as these are the people who appear in the Queen’s Honours list, published twice a year, who become a knight for “services to the community” or “services to banking and international finance”. Apart from getting a place on the Board, and appearing as a patron of a charity, honour nobility is just that, an honour, and of little political significance. Hereditary Nobility, on the hand, recognises an accretion of wealth and/or power that is passed down through a family line. It is also a matter of personal and familial honour and service to the ideal and person of the Imperium and the Emperor.

This is something we find difficult to understand these days, with transient political leaders who seem more interested in self-promotion and self-enrichment, than in genuine service, but if you read the letters and diaries of members of the nobility up into the early Nineteenth Century, you find a caste of people who literally believed themselves born to rule, and to serve, and the service part of the equation was as important as the rewards that we tend to focus upon nowadays. Yes, there were idiots, and schemers, and rogues, and thieves amongst them, and these people seem to get all the press in our post-revolutionary present day, but there were also countless members of the nobility who served at home and abroad doing those things that career military officers and diplomats do today. And part of their education was to act as the representative of the King or Emperor in every situation they found themselves in.

If we consider the Imperial Nobility from this point of view, then the division of the Imperium into Domains, Sectors and Subsectors makes sense. Below the Subsector Ducal level, there are Marquis’, Counts and Barons as rulers of planetary systems or groups of systems (the term “fief”, though archaic, makes sense to describe these smaller subdivisions). And it’s at this point that the two governance design systems appear to run headlong into each other.

Thinking about the situation, I wondered if I was looking at it the wrong way. Rolling up a government in the usual, approved, way, gives one a feeling of “ownership” for the government – that the government is the legitimate authority on the planet. This feeling of ownership then becomes conflicted when one imposes a planetary noble over the heads of the government. Except ... what if we are assuming that the planetary government precedes the imposition of the noble house.

What if the granting of the world as a fief to a Noble House was the catalyst for the settlement of that world and, in the most part, the settlers of that world were either granted a form of government, or negotiated a government, with the Noble House holding the Writ or Deed of Settlement? During the establishment of the early British settlements in North America, King James, or the Crown of Britain, would issue a Writ to a consortium of noble Merchant Adventurers to establish a colony. It would then become their responsibility to secure sufficient funds and settlers to make the colony viable. When attempting to attract settlers, whether free or unfree, there had to be something in the deal for them as well. For small holders, it was a chance to improve their lot; for indentured servants, there was the chance to secure their freedom; and for the stakeholders and stockholders in the settlement company, there was the chance to make a fortune. This is part of the model I have used for my own RimWorlds campaign, as readers of my historical posts will be aware (the other part of the model is the bucellarii of Belisarius and/or the comitatus relationship structure practised by the Classical and Early Medieval Germans – both of which form the basis of what later became known as the feudal system).

I think that if viewed in this fashion, then the Science-Fiction-Feudal model of government, as suggested in Traveller, works – where you have planetary democracies, they function much like Constitutional Monarchies in that the Parliament can advise the planetary noble, but he or she makes the ultimate decisions on governance, while deferring to planetary law in matters where he or she is displeased. More totalitarian forms of government would indicate more direct rule by the planetary noble, while loser forms of government would indicate a “planetary moot”, everyone gets to make their point, and the noble is advised by a group of respected, and/or trusted, advisers.

And while the goal of the Noble is to rule wisely and well, ultimately, he or she is looking to the future of the dynasty. Houses can fall, by losing the trust of their people, or the trust of those that placed them where they are, but Houses can rise as well. Good service is rewarded by those who see the good.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A to Z: M is for Meson Gun

Mesons exist. They are “hadronic subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by the strong interaction.” They form a family of subatomic particles about two-thirds the size of a proton or neutron. Mesons are not very long-lived, decaying in hundredths of a microsecond.

In Traveller, the Meson Accelerator is a dual particle accelerator, accelerating both electrons and positrons (anti-electrons). When the streams intersect, the colliding electrons and positrons create a pi neutral meson, as well as releasing a great deal of energy. The meson’s brief half-life can be extended by accelerating the meson to relativistic speeds, and by controlling the velocity of the beam, the precise point-of-decay can be set so that the meson decays within a target such as a starship. Mesons can pass through matter such as the armour on ships, and installations. They can also pass through matter such as planetary crustal material. Some planetary governments have taken to building large Meson Guns and burying them in deep sites. As long as they remain linked to surface detection systems, the Deep Meson Guns can engage hostile ships attempting to attack or land forces upon the planet.

Meson Guns are used as Spinal Weapons on Cruiser class and larger warships, or as massive bay weapons, on large destroyers. These starship-sized weapons are also used for planetary defence. At high tech levels smaller, vehicle mounted meson guns, are used as self-propelled artillery.

My knowledge of particle physics is pretty much what I’ve skim-read on Wikipedia today while trying to look at the science behind the Meson Gun. I’m a little sceptical of the Meson Accelerator as written – originally written up in Book 5: High Guard, this description is now recorded on the Traveller Wiki. From what I can gather, as a meson decays it actually produces electrons and neutrinos so the makeup of the original particle beams are more likely to be protons and anti-protons as it is the presence of quarks that determines the creation of mesons.

Even if the science as presented is a little wonky, it does appear that a weapon, that produces an effect similar to a Meson Gun as written, is possible. A gun that can shoot through walls, hills and starship armour is the ultimate AT&T weapon in that it can really reach out and touch someone – not so fun if you’re on the wrong end, though.

Friday, 13 April 2012

A to Z: L is for Language and Leviathan

Trokh random word generator from Alien Module 1: AslanLanguage
Way back when I did my “I for Imperial Basic” post, I had good intentions of expanding upon the languages in Traveller theme by doing an “L for Languages” post. This is because back in April 2010 I posted a simple system for working out what languages a character might possibly know. Not having really had the opportunity to revisit the system, it still seems to me to provide a reasonably neat way of handling languages within the context of the game. I would appreciate feedback or playtest reports if anyone would like to give them a go.

I first encountered the term “Land Leviathan” as the title to a novel by Michael Morcock – one of his Oswald Bastable science fantasies set in an alternative early 1900s – 1930s Earth. Somewhere about the same time, or a little earlier, I saw Star Wars and caught glimpses of the massive and enigmatic Jawa Sandcrawler.

In the late 1970's, New Zealand wasn't the end of the Earth – but you could certainly see it from here. So we missed out on most of the really cool Star Wars toys that people now pay fortunes for on eBay. Consequently, I wasn't even aware that model Sandcrawlers existed until very recently when I was looking for a ride for my newly-painted Chewks.

Produced by Khurasan Miniatures, the Chewks are a desert-dwelling, crustacean-like species who actually look nothing like Jawas, but who tick the Jawa-box for me. I've decided to incorporate them into my Traveller campaign as proxies for the Ly-ly, natives of Gyven’s World, a desert planet in the Cabria Subsector.

Looking for a vehicle that ticked the Sandcrawler box, I eventually settled on a 1/72nd scale A7V – a German tank from World War I that looks like an iron box on tracks. As my miniatures are all 15mm, or 1/100th scale, a large vehicle in 1/72nd scale looks even more massive, especially as being unfamiliar to most people, it's hard to establish a visual scale.

While I was looking around for vehicles, I came across this monster (below): the LVTP-5, an armoured landing craft used by the US Marines in Vietnam. While the more modern AAV-7 looks vaguely boat-like, the designers of the LVTP-5 must have decided that “put a large enough engine in a floating metal box and it will eventually move in the direction you want it to.”

I ended up buying a 15mm scale model from Peter Pig and then painted it up in a random camo pattern. The vehicle “unit number” is from a font called “Angled” and was hand drawn in pencil, inked with a felt-tipped pen, and then hand-painted.

A UNSC Marine from Ground Zero Games and a Chewk from Khurasan Miniatures are there to give a sense of scale to the vehicle.
I could not work out which was the front end of the LVTP-5 until I saw a photo of one actually at sea – the domed hatches belong to the driver and commander while what I thought was a boxy bridge is actually a command cupola for the marines riding as passengers.

The A7V is still awaiting assembly.

One of the best Traveller adventures from amongst Games Designers' Workshop's stable of adventure modules is Adventure 4: Leviathan. The characters play crucial crew members aboard the 1800 ton Jump-3 merchant ship, Leviathan, on a trade and exploration mission beyond the borders of the Imperium. Essentially a road trip, the characters know that there are systems out there in the wilderness, and their job is to go out, make first contact, and trade beads and axe heads (or the Traveller equivalent thereof) for lucrative and exotic stuff they can bring back home.

Thinking about this adventure module today, I was, once again, reminded of the great wonder of the unknown we felt; even playing adventures set in the Official Traveller Universe, back in those days. At that time, Supplement3: The Spinward March had given us a look at one Sector of the Imperium, and a large scale map of the Imperium, much like the wide view on this website, was doing the rounds as a promotional piece of art. Beyond that, the galaxy and the Universe belonged to the Traveller players, and their Games Masters.

Then along came this adventure script and this invitation to leave familiar space ... . Traveller has this Age-of-Sail vibe due to its travel times and its communication limitations and the Leviathan adventure invited you, as the player, to step aboard with Columbus, de Gama, d’Urville and Cook and boldly sail beyond the edge of the map into the bits of space marked, “here be dragons”.

Have we lost this wonder? I follow an astronomy blog called Centauri Dreams and try to keep up to date with developments in astronomy – part of satisfying the science that goes with the fiction – and astronomers are now detecting exoplanets only a few orders of magnitude larger than our Earth. By the time we have developed a Jump Drive, we may very well be able to detect the glow of alien cities in the night sky of any planet we care to visit. Would Columbus have sailed to the new world if he had known that he would be stuck in traffic in the Antillian equivalent of the Seville rush hour? Likewise in Traveller, the massive mapping-of-the-known-universe project, started by DPG, and continued by the fan group HIWG, essentially filled in all the lovely vague bits on the Traveller Imperium map – because we have this incessant need to know what’s over “there” – until the only way to “refresh” the official Traveller universe, was to destroy it.

So, that’s my old grognard’s lament – the surveyors taking all the magic out of the unknown – and the reason why I have left large sections of my sector map only vaguely mapped. Like Leviathan - the original one - mystery and the thrill of the unknown need unfathomed deeps to lurk in. Micromanagement shines light in all the cracks and crevices and kills wonder. Sometimes, it is better to leave blank bits on the map, so when the players suddenly set off in that direction, the Games Master goes along as an explorer, too. Sharing the excitement of exploring something new should be a thrill for both the narrator and the participants.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A to Z: K is for Kamperel

Kamperel is a system in My Traveller Universe, the RimWorlds Sector. Kamperel and the Kamperelian Republic are one of those little quirks that get thrown up by random system generation, and then take on a life of their own when a little thought is applied.

The Kamperelian Republic is a three-system polity near the centre of Miazan Subsector, consisting of the systems of Kamperal, Floranna and Ektra. Once member worlds of the Imperium, Kamperel and its two subject systems now refuse to recognise the authority of either the Subsector Duke of Miazan, or the Sector Duke. As the population of Kamperel numbers a large percentage of the total population of the Subsector, the House Geyukthi Subsector Dukes of Miazan have not been able to muster the resources to bring Kamperel to heel.

So, how did this situation come about?

Kamperel, Floranna and Ektra make up the Kamperel Cluster – a group of stars within one parsec of each other and separated by at least two parsecs from all neighbouring systems. This makes their location fairly strategic because all trade moving through the subsector is either obliged to move through Kamperelian space, or divert around it, adding many weeks to transit times.

Kamperel is a small, poor, dry world with a very thin atmosphere, a population in the 10s of billions, and a Tech Level of 11 – low interstellar. Ektra is a small, desert world with a very thin tainted atmosphere, a population in the low millions and a Tech Level of 8. Floranna is an average-sized water world with a standard, tainted atmosphere, a population in the millions and a Tech Level of 12. One thing all three systems share is that their populations live in sealed environments. Otherwise, there was not a lot to distinguish them from any number of other systems.

In my notes on the history of the RimWorlds, there was a mysterious entry, “1032 Cessation of the Rivokul War”. What I had originally intended by that entry, I no longer remember. During late 2007/early 2008, as I was creating my Traveller website and working up the Library Data, I decided upon this:
“House Rivokul, as retainers of the Geyukthi Dukes of Miazan Subsector, had been Siridar-Barons of Kamperel/Miazan since the middle of the 10th Century. Outrageously corrupt, they had mercilessly exploited the huge population of their small, poor world. While the 3rd Outrim War was at its height, clandestine shipments of arms from the Outrim Alliance began reaching the People’s Justice Army of Kamperel. For eighteen months in 1031 – 32 the People’s Justice Army took on House Rivokul’s brutal mercenary guardsmen, fighting for control of the factories and tower blocks of Kamperel. A young Torvor Van Zaquerl, barely nineteen years old, personally led a team that penetrated House Rivokul’s fortress-palace where the entire family, and their retainers, were summarily executed.

"By the time Sector Duke Yuri Sehlemarl had concluded the 3rd Outrim War in 1038, a republican government headed by Torvor Van Zaquerl was firmly established on Kamperel. As most of House Geyukthi, who had supported House Rivokul, or at least turned a blind eye to their misdeeds, had perished in the Outrim War, there was little political will to overturn the new administration on Kamperel, provided it remained loyal to the Imperium and its appointed representative, the Sector Duke.”

So, a throw-away line in a note book had become a fully fledged event, with personalities and links to outside events.

During the 3rd Outrim War, Outrim Alliance raiders penetrated through much of Miazan Subsector. As Alliance ground forces were faring poorly against Imperial garrisons – lacking both the numbers and the technology to take planets with any decent-sized population – Alliance Command switched to the alternate tactic of arming and encouraging local resistance and revolutionary movements in an effort to force Imperial Forces to spread out to protect their hinterland. House Rivokul, already corrupt and hated by their subjects, was a prime contender for this tactic.

The Kamperelian Republic remained quiescent after the Outrim War, while extending their economic domination over their near neighbour, Ektra. In 1051, the Ektrans turned on the Kamperelian Merchant Factors on-planet and sacked their compounds. Torvor Van Zaquerl, now “Governor” of Kamperal, dispatched six Kamperelian Cruisers and an invasion force against Ektra. After a savage bombardment, the Ektrans surrendered to Kamperel and have been garrisoned ever since.

Kamperel remained neutral during the 4th Outrim War of 1080 – 85, but one of Marc Van Zaquerl’s first acts as Governor, upon succeeded his father Torvor in 1082, was to launch a sudden attack on Floranna. Under the guise of securing the Kamperel Cluster against Outrim raiders, Van Zaquerl’s task force caught the Florannese SDB flotilla unprepared and destroyed them. The sub aquatic domed cities of Floranna held out against the Kamperelians for another twenty months, but were eventually forced to surrender.

In the aftermath of the Outrim War, Imperial authorities in Miazan Subsector were, once again, in such a weakened state that apart from lodging a protest with the Sector Ducal Court they, once more, acquiesced with the fait accompli they had been presented with.

In the subsequent 30 years, relations between the Subsector Duchy and the Kamperelians have been cool.

One interesting effect of the topography that the Kamperelian armed forces operate in is that they are one of the few militaries to have developed walker technology beyond humanoid droids. Wheeled traffic has never really developed on any of the three main worlds of the Cluster. Both the sub aquatic cities of Floranna and the warrens of Ektra are effectively closed-in tunnel environments, very similar to the megacity sprawl of Kamperel’s inhabited zone in that they are three-dimensional mazes designed for human access only. Vehicular transportation for the Kamperelian military is limited to Power Armour or Walkers as these can cope with the narrow access halls, staircases and lift shafts.