Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas


Happy Christmas to all and best wishes for the New Year.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Website Update #26

I keep being told that "things are winding down towards Christmas. If anything, I'm getting busier. At work, I'm deep in planning for moving buildings in February - we have three live on-air TV channels to relocate and the easiest ways of doing it have been stymied by a lack of budget.

I seem to have hit a bit of a dry spot, Traveller-wise, at the moment but I have managed to do some painting. The latest update is here on my website.

A chap over on The Miniatures Page is trying to drum up support for an expansion to the 15mm Ventauran range of figures produced by Eureka Miniatures. The Ventaurans are my primary choice for Zhodani and fill the role of Kalar-Wi in my Traveller campaign, so I'm in. A couple of Officer poses wouldn't go amiss, in my opinion.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Imperial Marines 351st Division Gamelea Subsector

Back in April 2013, I began looking at the deployment of Imperial Marine Divisions and their component elements in the RimWorlds.

At the time I wrote:
Fleet Marine Force Command RimWorlds Sector (FMFCRw) is based at Sector Fleet Command Headquarters, currently on Thiroor/Gazolan, and falls under Sector Fleet Command RimWorlds Sector. Fleet Marine Force Command consists of nine Imperial Marine Divisions, deployed in the nine Subsectors of the RimWorlds controlled by the Imperium. The deployments, from Coreward to Rimward, are as follows:

827th Marine Division, Kaorin Subsector
852nd Marine Division, Berimer’s Sceptre Subsector
853rd Marine Division, Daltharmai Subsector
900th Marine Division, Gazolan Subsector
902nd Marine Division, Thurgandarn Subsector
351st Marine Division, Gamelea Subsector
409th Marine Division, Nolgor Subsector
478th Marine Division, Miazan Subsector
496th Marine Division, Gazul Subsector

Each Marine Division consists of four Marine Infantry Regiments, an Armoured Battalion, two Light Armour Reconnaissance Battalions, a Commando Battalion, two Engineering Battalions, a COACC Wing, an Artillery Regiment, and a Logistics Regiment. From this formation are drawn the Ships’ Troops of all Imperial Navy and Subsector Navy ships within that subsector, all Navy Base and Starport Security details within that subsector, the Security details for many high ranking Imperial Officials within that subsector, as well as garrisons for important installations, troops deployed on Police Actions and Counter Insurgency Operations, and the Marine Expeditionary Units - Ready Reaction forces deployed aboard ship for months at a time, awaiting the order to Jump and deploy.

The 351st Imperial Marine Division – Gamelea Subsector


The 351st Imperial Marine Division is deployed in Gamelea Subsector. The Division’s elements are divided between the five Naval Bases in the Subsector; Gamelea/Gamelea, Varch/Gamelea, Feor/Gamelea, Canblyne/Gamelea and Ventura/Gamelea.

The 351st Marine Division consists of:
  • 895th Marine Regiment – 2 battalions, stationed at Varch/Gamelea, 1 battalion, stationed at Kalar-Wi/Gamelea
  • 1033rd Marine Regiment – 3 battalions, stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea
  • 1200th Marine Regiment – 3 battalions, stationed at Feor/Gamelea
  • 1204th Marine Regiment – 2 battalions, stationed at Ventura/Gamelea, 1 battalion, stationed at Canblyne/Gamelea
  • 540th Marine Tank Battalion – 57 Grav tanks, stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea.
  • 227th Light Armour Reconnaissance Battalion - 57 Light Grav tanks, stationed at Varch/Gamelea.
  • 295th Light Armour Reconnaissance Battalion – 57 Light Grav tanks, stationed at Feor/Gamelea.
  • 9092nd Commando Battalion – stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea.
  • 1550th Marine Engineer Regiment – 3 battalions, 1st battalion stationed at Varch/Gamelea, 2nd Battalion stationed at Feor/Gamelea, 3rd Battalion stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea.
  • 97121st COACC Wing – 1st Group, battalion landing craft, 9751 and 9754 Squadrons stationed at Feor/Gamelea; 9752 and 9756 Squadrons stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea, 9753 and 9757 Squadrons stationed at Ventura/Gamelea, and 9758 and 9759 Squadrons stationed at Varch/Gamelea; 2nd Group, close support craft, 9852 and 9853 Squadrons stationed at Varch/Gamelea, 9854 and 9857 Squadrons stationed at Feor/Gamelea, 9855 and 9858 Squadrons stationed at Ventura/Gamelea, and 9856 and 9859 Squadrons stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea; 3rd Group, Lift Units, 9863 Squadron, stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea.
  • 891st Marine Meson Artillery Regiment – 4 batteries of four Meson grav sleds. Battery A is stationed at Varch/Gamelea, Battery B is stationed at Feor/Gamelea, Battery C is stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea, and Battery D is stationed at Ventura/Gamelea.
  • 10201st Marine Logistics Regiment – 1st Battalion is stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea, 2nd Battalion is stationed at Varch/Gamelea, 3rd Battalion is stationed at Feor/Gamelea.

The 351st Marine Division is the Imperial ground force component assigned to the 297th Fleet, deployed to Gamelea Subsector. Four Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) draw their component elements from the 351st Marine Division and are available for rapid deployment. 21st MEU is based at Varch/Gamelea, 22nd MEU is based at Feor/Gamelea, 23rd MEU is based at Gamelea/Gamelea and 24th MEU is based at Ventura/Gamelea.

Marine Expeditionary Units are mixed ground units usually formed around the core of a battalion combat team, and deployed as missions require. Marine Expeditionary Units are normally deployed from Battalion Landing Craft and Lift Units. Marine Expeditionary Units for the 351st Marine Division are as follows:

21st MEU:
  • 1 battalion from 895th Marine Regiment
  • 1 coy from 227th LAR Battalion
  • 1 coy from 1/1550th Marine Engineer Regiment
  • Battery A 891st Marine Meson Artillery Regiment
  • 1 coy from 2/10201st Marine Logistics Regiment
  • 9852 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9853 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9758 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft
  • 9759 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft


22nd MEU:
  • 1 battalion from 1200th Marine Regiment
  • 1 Coy from 295th LAR Battalion
  • 1 coy from 2/1550th Marine Engineer Regiment
  • Battery B 891st Marine Meson Artillery Regiment
  • 1 coy from 3/10201st Marine Logistics Regiment
  • 9854 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9857 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9751 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft
  • 9754 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft


23rd MEU:
  • 1 battalion from 1033rd Marine Regiment
  • 1 Coy from 540th Marine Tank Battalion
  • 1 Coy from 295th LAR Battalion
  • 1 coy from 3/1550th Marine Engineer Regiment
  • Battery C 891st Marine Meson Artillery Regiment
  • 1 coy from 1/10201st Marine Logistics Regiment
  • 9856 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9859 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9752 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft
  • 9756 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft


24th MEU:
  • 1 battalion from 1204th Marine Regiment
  • 1 Coy from 540th Marine Tank Battalion
  • 1 Coy from 295th LAR Battalion
  • 1 coy from 2/1550th Marine Engineer Regiment
  • Battery D 891st Marine Meson Artillery Regiment
  • 1 coy from 1/10201st Marine Logistics Regiment
  • 9855 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9858 Squadron COACC Close Support
  • 9753 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft
  • 9757 Squadron COACC Battalion Landing Craft


Marine Platoon with Scout Section
Marine Expeditionary Units rotate their ready status between “Standby 1” Condition – all component elements are aboard transport ships and the transports are ready to Jump within the hour – and “Standby 24” Condition – all component elements are on base and can be aboard their transports and ready to Jump within 24 hours. “Standby 12” Condition is often observed during times of heightened political tension. Units currently not assigned to a MEU are usually involved in training, or the Infantry elements are assigned as Ships’ Troops or as security for bases or officials (“dry” targets or “wet” targets in Marine parlance).

The 895th Marine Regiment, stationed at Varch, has one battalion deployed as part of the Imperial Occupation Force in the Kalar-Wi system. Currently tasked with garrisoning Kalar-Wi Highport, the 895th's part in the OFOR-KW deployment is scheduled to end in 1110. With one battalion on garrison duty, and a battalion commitment to 21st Marine Expeditionary Unit, unit rotations have been lengthened to accommodate the extra demand on manpower. 1204th marine regiment, stationed at Ventura, is under similar pressure as it is required to maintain a battalion deployment at Canblyne, as well as a battalion commitment to 24th MEU. Fleet Marine Force Command Gamelea Subsector is pressing both 297th Fleet Command at Gamelea, and Fleet Marine Force Command RimWorlds (FMFCRw) at Thiroor/Gazolan to be allowed to recruit a fourth battalion for each of the four Marine Regiments deployed in Gamelea Subsector to shorten rotations and improve morale. 

For Jump capable transport, Marine Expeditionary Forces rely upon Imperial Navy transports, for moving ground units, and Light Carriers for moving COACC elements. Each Marine Expeditionary Force is usually assigned a Sector Navy Task Force as an escort, or will be attached to a Sector Navy Fleet. All COACC vessels are crewed by Marine crews and fall under the command of the Force Commander, Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Lift Units of 3rd Group, 97121st COACC Wing are assigned to MEUs as and when they require heavy lift for armour deployment.

The ground-side deployment force of a Marine Expeditionary Unit consists of 1333 personnel, 11 Air/rafts, 18 Light Tanks, 18 Heavy Tanks, and 164 APCs. The Expeditionary Unit usually deploys aboard a Da’sanai Class Carrier, with an associated Imperial Navy Task Group of five to seven destoyers.

While the majority of the Expeditionary Unit are billeted aboard the Carrier during deployment, six platoons and their APCs, plus up to 24 tanks, are billeted aboard three dedicated Heavy Landers. These landers, (Jasaugee Class 1500 ton Landers) plus the 16 pinnaces (KA843 and KA844 type 50 ton pinnaces) and the 30 Heavy Fighters (15 Lorjander and 15 Fhrenrhis Class 50 ton Fighters) also deployed aboard the Carrier, are all crewed by Marine Crews and form the COACC squadrons assigned to the MEU. Between the landers and the pinnaces, a MEU can land to surface around two companies of infantry, two tank platoons, two Light Armour Reconnaissance platoons and a Meson battery per wave.


The 297th Imperial Fleet, assigned to Gamelea Subsector, provides the dedicated Carrier Task Groups that transport all elements of the four Marine Expeditionary Units drawn from the 351st Marine Division. Each Task Group consists of a Da’sanai Class Assault Carrier and its attendant escorts.

The 351st Marine Division contains the 97121st Close Orbit and Airspace Control Command Wing. The COACC Wing consists of three Groups of interface craft crewed by Marine crews and tasked with both landing Marine ground elements safely and providing them with Close Orbit and Airspace support.

1st GroupJasaugee Class 1500 Ton Battalion Landing Craft, eight squadrons; 9751, and 9754 Squadrons are stationed at Feor/Gamelea, 9752 and 9756 Squadrons are stationed at Gamelea/Gamelea, 9753 and 9757 Squadrons are stationed at Ventura/Gamelea, 9758 and 9759 Squadrons are stationed at Varch/Gamelea. Each squadron consists of six Jasaugee Landers, in two flights of three. One squadron at each station is on active duty at all times with the second refitting. Each Da’sanai Carrier carries a flight of Jasaugee landers. Each lander can deploy two infantry platoons with their Grav APCs, as well as five Grav tanks.

2nd GroupFhrenrhis and Lorjander Class 50 Ton Close Support craft, eight squadrons; 9852 Fhrenrhis, and 9853 Lorjander Squadrons are based at Varch/Gamelea, 9854 Lorjander and 9857 Fhrenrhis Squadrons are based at Feor/Gamelea, 9855 Fhrenrhis and 9858 Lorjander Squadrons are based at Ventura/Gamelea, and 9856 Fhrenrhis and 9859 Lorjander Squadrons are based at Gamelea/Gamelea. Each Squadron consists of two 15 craft flights. Two flights – usual a flight of Fhrenrhis’ and a flight of Lorjanders – are carried aboard each Da’sanai Carrier to act as dedicated COACC support for Marine landings.

3rd Group - Lift Units, one squadron; 9863 Squadron. 9863 Squadron is equipped with two marks of 50 Ton pinnace produced by Combine-Tolvyk, the KA-843 and the KA-844. The KA-843 is fitted to carry 42 Marines and their personal equipment, while the KA-844 is configured to carry 3 Grav APCs or two Grav tanks. A Da’Sanai Carrier will normally carry eight KA-843 and 16 KA-844 pinnaces. 9863 Squadron deploys 60 KA-843 and 120 KA-844.


Monday, 14 October 2013

200th Post and 50,000 Hits

A couple of mile stones (as "kilometer stones" sounds a little too medical, like kidney stones which, I am told, are no fun at all) have slipped past here on the High Port. Orbital stability was achieved on 13th January 2010 with Post #1. Post #100 occurred on 11th March 2012, and the fourth part of the Fun with Family Trees series of articles, posted on 30th September 2013, was actually Post #200.

As a bonus, and allowing a certain sloppage for bots and Russian porn sites which seem to make up an awful lot of the traffic on the Internet, sometime in the last couple of weeks the 50,000th hit on this blog from a Human occurred.

I'm still surprised that my 2012 A to Z sequence of posts gets regular hits, and another perennial favorite seems to be my post on Languages. The linked Library Data pages on Ships, Languages, Library Data and Height and Weight also attract regular views.

Looking ahead - well, I'm loath to set hard and fast KPI's as I write this blog for fun, and the freedom to chop and change as my interests shift is very valuable to me. When writing becomes a chore, than the quality suffers.

Having said that, I do want to finish the Imperial Marine deployments and the Imperial Army and Planetary Defence units for the rest of the developed subsectors to the level I worked up for Miazan Subsector. I also want to progress development on Gazolan Subsector, as well as look at Imperial and Subsector Navy deployments. I also think that the Height and Weight Table needs some further work done, as I have come across some material that suggests even in Low Gravity, there is a maximum height a human can attain before they need massive cardiopulmonary modification. And I need to gather up all the fragments of Aloin's Saga into one place and carry that story on, as well as work on areas where my players may be considering Adventuring.

Looks like I have at least another 100 posts to make. In that case, all hands to stations and secure for Jump. We're outbound for the Deep Dark again.


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Website Update #25

Just updated my modelling log with some Adventurer/Insurgents, some agents, some droids, and a Space Pal - These aren't the droids you're looking for.


Monday, 30 September 2013

Fun with Family Trees #4

Building Houses 2: Expanding the Family to a Dynasty

In my previous post I suggested a relatively simple method for generating a family for a character. The idea was to give each character a little extra depth.

For Houses Major - the planetary ruling noble dynasties - I tend to simplify my Family Generating rules even further as I am inevitably attempting to construct a lineage that stretches over several centuries.

Usually, I have a date when the dynasty first gained its title. A number of the Rimward dynasties, for example, were established during the Trumer Restoration, the campaigns of Sector Duke Leonid I Trumer that ended the chaos of the Sarkul Wars in 906. 906 is the official date for the establishment of Miazan Subsector, the founding of the Duchy of Miazan and the accession of House Geyukthi as Dukes of Miazan. It also marks the accession of House Mahuran as Counts of Bromus. Obviously, there were antecedents in the family lineages of House Mahuran and House Geyukthi but, prior to 906, these antecedents were just members of the teeming mass of Houses Minor and other functionaries who had found themselves drawn into the orbit of House Trumer and, in particular, the orbit of the man who would become Leonid I, Sector Duke of the RimWorlds.

In the case of the House Geyukthi lineage, with the chronological start point established  I pretty much rolled 1D6 and declared that Duke Arkuru I had three siblings, assigned them spouses, and went from there. The width of the page of my notebook pretty much decided the maximum number of descendants per generation, and I kept a close eye on my History of the RimWorlds document to check for events that might lead to major die-offs amongst dynasty members, such as the 3rd Outrim War that devastated the Geyukthis.

The Geyukthis of Miazan are a patrilineal clan - in fact, by default, I tend to construct patrilineal clans as Western European History tends to accept inheritance - of the family name, in particular - as passing through the male line. We accept women taking their husbands' surnames, we accept lines of descent being plotted from father to son, and we are only just beginning to question male primogeniture in the English royal succession. In my notes I have one House Major, House Hikasaku of Gazul Subsector, who practices pure primogeniture - the successor of the first Duke was his daughter, and her husband was bestowed with the honour title of Count, but not Siridar-Count as he did not rule an Imperial County of more than one star system.

When I pretty much pulled the family of Saariki Hassoon out of thin air for my previous post, the dice dealt me a sequence of female characters in all the critical age groups to keep the family viable. Pushing the ages around a few years avoided child brides and child mothers, but pretty much confirmed a matrilineal descent from Liriansa, through Goushansu, to Saariki Hassoon the Marine. I wrote and posted that post at work (a slow day in the data fields) and mulled it over on the way home. The most difficult part of the family tree construction was that I had opted for a vaguely Egyptian naming style and it wasn't immediately obvious which names were male and which female. Other than that, I was suddenly presented with the question of why the 53rd Century Family Trees I had been constructing were so concerned about male lineages when, basically, girls could do anything, including be Marines and Fleet Admirals.

Chagrined, I had a look at House Mahuran, Siridar-Counts of Bromus and the first House Major I had constructed in a couple of decades.

In building this House, I had a character, Count Sakkan III, already extant in my game notes. Looking through my extant family trees, I picked up three female members of House Mahuran who had married into other Houses Major. My usual practice to now has been not to record the ages of females marrying into a House, I have worked under the assumption that their age will be similar to that of their spouse. Working backwards from their spouse's ages, I was able to place these women both generationally, and then temporally, and discovered that the current Count of Bromus had two aunts -sisters of his father - who had become Duchesses of Miazan and Gamelea, respectively. Not bad for a couple of gals from the potato fields of Bromus.

While filling in the generations back to the establishment of the County of Bromus in 906, I realized I had to fit in two more Sakkans, and any number of other holders of the Honour. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that Sakkan I had lingered on as Count for a lot longer than the standard human lifespan. This gave rise to the intrigue about his possible use of anagathics (and possible rumours of a haunted tomb) which, in turn, gave me more scenario ideas.

For those interested in this sort of thing, this Wkipedia article gives a good explanation of what we perceive as the "standard" form of succession, as well as some that are, perhaps, not so familiar.

I particularly like the idea of the Lateral Succession where the Septs of the Clan of the House Major effectively form the Houses Minor of a planetary system, as well as filling its senior military and administrative roles. Upon the death, or retirement, of the current holder of the House Major honour, the heads of the Septs meet in conclave to elect the most suitable member of the Clan to succeed him or her. This person may not necessarily be the head of a particular Sept, but that Sept will gain status for having produced the successful claimant.


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Fun with Family Trees #3

Building Houses 1

Over the years I have looked at a number of methods for generating families for roleplaying and wargames campaigns. Some of them simple and some of them complex.

One of the lessons I have learned is to ask what role the family you are generating plays in your game. The answer to that question will govern exactly how much detail you need to create.

The family trees I have created for my Houses Major exist primarily to add a little flesh to the historical narrative of my campaign. I enjoy history, and I enjoy writing history, but history is the story of people, as well as events. It is the tragic stories of, primarily, human strivings, successes and failures, opportunities lost due to short-sightedness, or cunning plans adroitly executed by astute forethought and skill, that make history come alive. If history provides the "What?", then it is people, and their motivations, that provide the "Why?".

Sometimes, in the course of character creation, it is worth creating the character's immediate family - an elderly mother, a dissolute father, estranged (or otherwise) siblings, dependent children, can all provide motivations, plot hooks, complications and surprise twists for an adventure. Here is a simple way of randomly drawing up a family:
  • Roll 2D6 - there are 2 - 12 people in the character's immediate family.
  • Determine sex of family members - Roll 1D6 for each family member; 1-3 Female, 4-6 Male (if Aslan 1-4 Female, 5, 6 Male).
  • Determine age bands of family members - Roll 1D8 (or D10) for each family member; result is the decade of age the individual is in: eg 1 = age 0 - 9, 2 = 10 - 19, 3 = 20 - 29, etc.
For a Traveller Character, where you arrive at the character's age at Mustering Out, this process should allow you to build a rough family tree around them, and determine if there any gaping holes in it. You then have the option of reassigning a relative's age to fill the gap, or of explaining the gap as being caused by a deceased or departed individual.

For example, I have just generated Saariki Hassoon, a Marine. After serving four terms in the Marines, Saariki Musters Out at the age of 34. I decide to generate her family and roll 2D6, getting 8. There are 8 people in Saariki's family.

I then roll 1D6 for each individual to determine their sex and roll:

1D6 = 21D6 = 6
1D6 = 41D6 = 1
1D6 = 21D6 = 2
1D6 = 61D6 = 4
and end up with 4 Males and 4 Females.

I then roll 1 D10 to determine the age bands of the individuals and roll:

1D10 = 91D10 = 1
1D10 = 11D10 = 5
1D10 = 51D10 = 5
1D10 = 31D10 = 9

So, bringing the two sets of rolls together, I have the following:

1 Female aged 80 - 891 Male aged 0 - 9
1 Male aged 0 - 91 Female aged 40 - 49
1 Female aged 40 - 491 Female aged 40 - 49
1 Male aged 20 - 291 Male aged 80 - 89

The Male and Female in their 80's could be husband and wife. We then appear to have three Females in their 40's - probably sisters, and daughters of the elderly couple. At age 34, Saariki could be the elder sister of the Male in his 20's, or the baby sister of the three 40 year old women. The latter is unlikely, as this would imply that the Female in her 80's had baby Saariki when she was 46 (assuming we make her 80). If one of the three sisters is 49, it is possible that she could have had Saariki when she was 15 or 16 - unwed mother and all that sort of thing. The two young Males could be the children of one of the three sisters, the children of the Male in his 20's, or even Saariki's children, especially if she had a couple of Garrison assignments in her last couple of terms in the Marines and decided to start a family.

The lack of Males in the middle age range of this family is interesting. I could change one of the three sisters into a Male and that could give Saariki and her brother two parents. Alternatively, I quite like the idea of a family of strong, career-minded women who have loved and lost, or made do when fickle relationships have gone sour.

For setting final character ages, and the relationships between the various characters, one could roll a D10 to establish exact age, or one could shuffle the ages backwards and forwards slightly to get a better fit. Bear in mind that in a relatively technologically advanced society women will tend to have children between the ages of 18ish and early 40's with a trend towards starting families later. Men would possibly become fathers from a similar age - late teens - and can become fathers into their 50's or 60's, particularly if they remarry a much younger woman. And while advanced medical technology and anagathics will most likely prolong lifespans, I suspect that this will encourage people to start families later in life, but will not necessarily increase the number of offspring per relationship.


And so after a bit of a play around, I ended up with a family tree that looks like this one above. I've added two dead Males and one live one (Astranor, the husband of Asanoursu, the youngest of the three sisters). I also made Goushansu, Saarika's mother, slightly older and gave her a husband who died about four years ago. Saariki, herself, is a widow, as her husband, Philcan, died seven years ago. It is likely that her two boys, Atephet and Kosaari, have actually been raised by their grandmother, Goushansu, while Saariki has been deployed.

And there you have a nice, relatively simple, method for giving a character a family.

Next: Expanding this out for a Dynasty.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Fun with Family Trees #2


Previously, I looked at the political subdivisions of Miazan Subsector. Most of these, including the County of Bromus, came into being during the Trumer Restoration of the RimWorlds Sector in the early 10th Century. In my last post, I described how I was able to begin to establish the lineage for House Mahuran, the incumbent House Major of the County of Bromus, from extant design clues. With the basics in place, I now needed to expand my family tree for House Mahuran - both backwards in time to discover the establishment of the County, and forward to learn about the heirs of the current Count, Sakkan III.


As the Family Tree began to spread out, I saw some interesting story ideas and questions developing, especially when I began weaving elements of the already existing history of the RimWorlds around the developing family line.

Amongst the questions that occurred to me was to wonder why, even though House Mahuran had successfully pursued off-world alliances with other Houses Major, and had obviously aligned themselves with at least two Bromosian Houses Minor, there were few alliances with the other Houses of the County. Of the three subordinate Houses Major, House Mahuran has an alliance with House Asheranon of Exxilon. Neither of the Lords of Lo-Taisang or Omega Vasalai IX are included within the famiglia of House Mahuran.

Omega Vasalai IX is an airless rock, settled by a religious sect known as the Pilgrims. Purchasing the settlement rights in 851, the Pilgrims effectively moved beyond the Imperial Frontier to occupy their new home as the Miazan Subsector Military District only encompassed Tonivar, Celephais, Byer's Planet and Naltor at that time. Given the nature and practise of their beliefs, it is unlikely that the Pilgrims would concern themselves with political marriage alliances, though the Derbus (Shepherds) have subsequently found the title "Siridar-Lord" useful when dealing with officials at the County and Subsector level.

Lo-Taisang was colonised by a migratory Vargr Clan in 1002, granted settlement rights in return for defending part of the frontier. To the Vargr of Lo-Taisang, being considered trusted guardians and protectors of their overlords is worth more Charisma than any pseudo interspecies union. Each company of the TL9 Infantry Battalion that Lo-Taisang has raised serves in turn as part of the Count of Bromus' personal guard. The Charisma each company gains for such loyal service keeps the competing septs loyal to the County. And given the general distrust the average Bromosian feels towards offworlders, and alien offworlders in particular, the sight of a company of Vargr in County Blues both thrills and appalls the populace.

Exxilon is a large, high gravity world, colonised in 969, just after the 2nd Outrim War. It was used as a dumping ground for populations displaced during the late war and House Asheranon, installed as Siridar-Barons of Exxilon by Duke Mah'radys I of Miazan, soon gained a reputation for their hard, yet indifferent rule, insulating themselves from their subjects behind an oppressive Law Level and and Impersonal Bureaucracy. While the bulk of the population of half a billion live in a string of cities, high up in the mountains of the small continent of Parishnaman, House Asheranon and its retainers are based on a large, geostationary satellite. It is rare for a member of the Household to "go down the well".

Relationships between House Asheranon and their feudal overlords, House Mahuran, are cordial yet cool. The installation of House Asheranon by House Geyukthi within House Mahuran's County was both a calculated insult and an assertion of authority by Mah'radys I, the 2nd Duke of Miazan. Count Sakkan I of Bromus may have won that argument, in the end, as he outlived both Mah'radys I and Chi'leur II, his son.



I find that as I look at the lifespans of various characters, and how they intersect with each other and the history of the time, that new details of the story emerge along with aspects of the character of key individuals. These are all elements of the metagame, the background against which the players will adventure and, to me, part of the fun is exploring and developing this aspect of the game.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fun with Family Trees #1


A Noble House from Scratch
House Mahuran, Siridar-Counts of Bromus, was the first Noble House I had created for my campaign in over twenty years. All this activity was sparked by work I was doing for upcoming game sessions with the "Tunnels of Tonivar" party, and by work I had recently done on Planetary Defence Units.

While the original "Tunnels of Tonivar" game had essentially been a treasure hunt, for the next chapter I decided to introduce a political and military element. To this end, I cast around for a suitable background world and, eventually, settled on Bromus/Miazan - where the Planetary Government type, a Charismatic Dictatorship, offered some interesting possibilities.

A brief account of Bromus has already appeared on this blog. During my solo game, "Aloin's Saga", one of the characters aboard Aloin's ship, the Iridium Queen, commented sarcastically that Bromus was a xenophobic dunghill of a police state, and only produced potatoes for export. Obviously, this wasn't the entire story of Bromus, but it made for an amusing conversation.



The Universal World Profile (or UWP) for Bromus is: C-4757A8-7.

What this means is that Bromus has a C Class Starport (routine services, no ship building); is 4000 miles in diameter (about half the size of Earth); has a standard atmosphere that is slightly tainted; 50% of the planet's surface is covered by seas, lakes, and other bodies of water; has a population in the 10s of millions; is ruled by a Charismatic Dictator; private ownership of firearms is prohibited and bladed weapons larger than a knife are controlled; and the planet as a whole has a technology level equivalent to the 1970s on Earth.

The Charismatic Dictatorship government-type got me thinking. My theory for how the Nobility work is that a Planetary, or Siridar, Noble is in effect the Planetary Head of State. The Planetary Government does the day to day administrative work, while the Siridar-Noble sets budgets, policy, laws, and represents the planet in interstellar forums. A Charismatic Dictator falls neatly into the category of Siridar Noble who has taken personal control of the planetary government - obviously, in this case, with the support of the populace.

At this point, I had no information on any noble house attached to Bromus. I had only created family trees for two Houses Major in Miazan Subsector - House Geyukthi, Dukes of Miazan, and House Sehlemarl, Viceroys of Celephais - and a couple more spread across Gamelea, Nolgor and Gazul Subsectors. I had some notes on two other Miazan Subsector Houses Major - Houses Rivokul and Van Zaquerl, both of Kamperel, but nothing as organised as a family tree. Scanning through the family trees I had completed, I discovered three female members of the "House of Bromus" - Stefani, married to Duke Pahran of Gamelea, Elemyl, married to Duke Mah'radys IV of Miazan, and Susan, married Duke Edenar I of Nolgor.

Basing the birthdates of these three women on that of their husbands, and arranging a sequence of Siridar-Counts of Bromus around them, I created a family line stretching from the mid-10th Century through to the current incumbent, Count Sakkan III (who, at this point, was just a name I had written in my notebook as I worked up scenario ideas for the Tunnels of Tonivar game). Given their ages, Stefani and Elemyl were obviously his aunts, while Susan became Count Sakkan III's great-aunt. House Mahuran, as the House of Bromus had become, was taking shape and had already demonstrated that this, supposedly xenophobic and isolated, House Major was actually connected to two of the most powerful Houses in the Spinward/Rimward portion of the Imperial RimWorlds.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Political Sub-divisions of Miazan Subsector

Working on the Unified Imperial Army and the Planetary Defence Forces for Miazan Subsector got me thinking about the various Houses Major of the Subsector - this was in the context of me airly saying "the Elite PDF units of such-and-such planet are the Baronial Household Guard". This reminded me that I had never quite finished working out the political sub-divisions of the Subsector and, aside from the Dukes of Miazan and the Viceroys of Celephais, had little idea of what Houses Major were active. So, what do we have?

Existing Houses Major of Miazan Subsector -
House Geyukthi of Miazan, Subsector Dukes of Miazan and past Sector Dukes of the RimWorlds. A list of Subsector Dukes (906 - present) and Sector Dukes (999 - 1031) has been created. A family tree tracing the descent of the Ducal line from Duke Chi'leur I (860 - 937 reigned 906 - 937) to the grandchildren of the current incumbent, Duke Mah'radys IV (1028 - present reigned 1085 - present) has been created.

House Sehlemarl-Geyukthi of Celephais, Viceroys of Celephais and past Sector Dukes of the RimWorlds. A list of Viceroys of Celephais (800 - present) and Sector Dukes (1031 - 1044) has been created. A family tree tracing the descent of the Viceregal line from Viceroy Fleet Admiral/Miazan Arkuru I Sehlemarl (750 - 812 reigned 800 - 812) to the children of the current incumbent, Viceroy Odron Orn Tala Sehlemarl-Geyukthi (1046 - present reigned 1083 - present) has been created.

House Rivokul of Kamperel - extinct, Siridar-Barons of Kamperel/Miazan from the mid-tenth century until 1032. Notoriously corrupt, House Rivokul ruled Kamperel with an iron hand. With arms supplied by the Outrim Alliance during the 3rd Outrim War, the People's Justice Army waged a bitter civil war against House Rivokul and its mercenaries. Victorious, the People's Justice Army summarily executed all surviving members of the House. No family tree or list of Barons of Kamperel has been written.

House Van Zaquerl of Kamperel, Siridar-Barons of Kamperel since 1040. From revolutionary gunman, Torvor Van Zaquerl became, first, a member of the People's Revolutionary Council, then Head of the Council and then, in 1040, he reconstituted the People's Revolutionary Council as an advisory body while taking the Office of People's First Officer. Under his son and grandsons, the Van Zaquerl dynasty has taken root on both Kamperel and across the Kamperelian Cluster. Scattered notes and references allow a family tree to be constructed from 1040 to present.

And that's about it.



Approaching the problem from a different direction, we know that there was a frontier zone along the coreward end of Miazan Subsector in the late 8th Century. This was known as the Miazan Subsector Military District and was centered on Celephais. The position of Governor of Celephais became hereditary for House Sehlemarl as a reward for services rendered by Fleet Admiral Arkuru Sehlemarl in the 2nd Rimward War (793 - 794) and its aftermath.

By the time Sector Duke Leonid I Trumer commenced the Trumer Restoration of the Sector in 906, House Sehlemarl had taken the title of Viceroy, acting at the behest of the Dukes of Gamelea. Sector Duke Leonid I soon discovered that House Sehlemarl had remained determinedly loyal to the Sector Duchy and continued to maintain a strong, and stable, presence across the coreward half of Miazan Subsector.  Recognizing Arkuru III's assumption of the title of Viceroy of Celephais, Duke Leonid I confirmed Arkuru's brother Lanyard I as Arkuru's successor. Leonid then moved to reconstitute the Miazan Subsector Military District as a proper Imperial Subsector. The Duchy of Miazan was duly created, consisting of the Counties of Nakaya, Miazan, and Bromus, with the Barony of Kamperel and the Viceroyalty of Celephais. With the Sehlemarls content as loyal guardians of the Miazan/Gamelea border, Leonid appointed his aide de camp, Chi'leur Geyukthi, as Duke of Miazan. The Duke of Miazan is also the Count of Miazan. Following the overthrow of House Rivokul in 1032, during the 3rd Outrim War, the Barony of Kameperel (Kamperel, Floranna and Ektra) pays lip service to the Sector Duke of the RimWorlds and the Imperium, but refuses to acknowledge the authority of the Duke of Miazan.

The Viceroyalty of Celephais consists of Celephais, itself, the Siridar-Barony of Naltor, and the Siridar-Lordships of Byer's Planet and Tonivar. Initially, the Vicerotalty of Celephais also included the Siridar-Lordship of Rimbaud II/Gamelea but, following the establishment of the Duchy of Miazan in 906, Rimbaud II was returned to the Duchy of Gamelea.

The County of Bromus consists of Bromus, the Siridar-Barony of Exxilon, and the Siridar-Lordships of Lo-Taisang and Omega Vasalai IX.

The County of Nakaya consists of Nakaya, and the Siridar-Lordship of Epoch.

The County of Miazan consists of Miazan, and the Siridar-Lordships of Golus, Janda and Hydrot.



From the Family Trees of both House Geyukthi and House Sehlemarl-Geyukthi, as well as notes in the Family Trees of Houses Crensea, Ulanor and Juharl-Zarquestuir, I have been able to find references to several people from the Noble Houses of Nakaya, Golus, Bromus and Naltor.

In the case of House Mahuran of Bromus, I have been able to construct a family tree stretching back four generations. And what that has shown is how well connected House Mahuran has become - from a minor House Major of a minor frontier County, in one generation we see it directly linked to the Duchies of Miazan and Gamelea.

Next: Fun with Family Trees and How Lineages Can Outline Your Stories



Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Imperial Army - Miazan Subsector

Dick Hentz' evocative mid-Tech trooper
from Book 4: Mercenary
Following on from the design work I did on the Imperial Marines assigned to Miazan Subsector, I next decided to examine the regular ground forces - the Army.

To guide me in this task, I turned to GURPs Traveller: Ground Forces by Douglas Berry for ideas and suggestions.

As an initial assumption, Ground Forces postulates that all Imperial planets above a certain population and Tech Level produce "Battalion Equivalents" from a percentage of their population. These "Battalion Equivalents" can either be grouped into Battalions and higher formations at the producing planet's tech level, or traded-in/amalgamated into Elite formations, or higher Tech Level formations. In the latter case, the assumption is that the planetary Government imports higher Tech equipment, which makes individual formations more efficient, which permits the Government to enlist fewer soldiers.

Ground Forces has a Battalion Equivalents table but, as this is a GURPs table, it makes my head hurt doing the mental arithmetic to convert it into Classic Traveller.

Looking through my stack of books, I found a copy of Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #10 - one of the issues that came out around the time the 5th Frontier War board game was released. I'm pretty sure that this table has appeared in various forms since then, but this is my version of it.

Defence Battalions or Battalion Equivalents (BEs)
Population
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
A
TL
3
-
1
10
1C
1K
10K
50K
100K
4
-
1
10
1C
1K
2K
20K
200K
5
1
2
3
30
3C
3K
30K
300K
6
1
2
3
30
3C
3K
30K
300K
7
-
1
2
20
2C
2K
20K
200K
8
-
1
2
20
2C
2K
20K
200K
9
-
-
1
15
150
15C
15K
150K
A
-
-
1
15
150
15C
15K
150K
B
-
-
1
12
120
12C
12K
120K
C
-
-
1
12
120
12C
12K
120K
D
-
-
1
10
1C
1K
10K
100K
E
-
-
7
7
70
7C
7K
70K
F
-
-
-
5
50
5C
5K
50K

Working with these figures and applying them to Miazan Subsector, we begin to see the following emmerge:

Miazan Subsector Imperial Worlds
Planet
Port
Pop
TL
BEs
Reserve
Raw BE
Units
Exxilon
C
8
9
150
225
75
1 TL12 Elite Armoured Battalion, 2 TL12 Armoured Battalions, 1 TL12 Elite Infantry Regiment, 1 understrength TL12 Infantry Regiment (4 Battalions), 1 TL9 Infantry Division
Bromus
C
7
7
200
300
100
2 TL7 Elite Armoured Regiments, 1 understrength TL7 Armoured Regiment, 1 TL7 Elite Infantry Brigade, 1 TL7 Infantry Division, 1 TL7 Infantry Brigade
Golus
A
5
D
1
-
1
1 TL13 Infantry Battalion - 1st Aldeed Golus Scout Battalion
Janda
B
4
D
-
-
-
Nil
Hydrot
B
3
7
-
-
-
Nil
Omega Vasali IX
C
3
7
-
-
-
Nil
Miazan
A
9
C
12000
18K
6000
1 TL15 Elite Armoured Corp, 1 TL15 Armoured Corp, 1 TL15 Elite Infantry Corp, 1 TL15 Infantry Corp, 2 TL14 Armoured Corps, 1 TL14 Elite Infantry Corp, 2 TL14 Infantry Corps
Celephais
B
6
B
12
18
6
1 TL11 Armoured Battalion, 1 understrength TL11 Infantry Regiment (4 Battalions)
Byer's Planet
B
4
A
-
-
-
Nil
Nakaya
C
9
7
20K
30K
10K
1 TL12 Elite Armoured Corp, 3 TL12 Armoured Corps, 2 TL12 Elite Infantry Corps, 3 TL12 Infantry Corps
Epoch
D
1
5
-
-
-
Nil
Naltor
D
6
4
100
150
50
1 TL10 Infantry Regiment, 1 TL10 Armoured Battalion
Cabria Subsector Imperial Worlds - part of Duchy of Miazan
Lo-Taisang
C
5
9
1
-
1
1 TL9 Infantry Battalion
Tonivar
C
5
8
2
3
1
1 TL8 Infantry Battalion, 3 TL8 Reserve Battalions - organised as an under-strength regiment
Unified Imperial Army Units for Miazan Subsector
Personnel for each Field Force of the Unified Imperial Army are recruited from all Imperial planets within the subsector the Field Force is assigned to.
405
1 TL15 Elite Armoured Division, 1 TL15 Elite Armoured Brigade, 1 TL15 Elite Infantry Brigade, 2 TL15 Elite Infantry Battalions, 1 TL14 Infantry Corp, 1 TL14 Elite Armoured Division, 1 TL14 Elite Infantry Division, 1 TL12 Infantry Corp, 1 TL12 Armoured Division, 1 TL12 Infantry Division, 1 understrength TL12 Infantry Regiment
Kamperelian Republic
Ektra
B
6
8
20
30
10
1 understrength TL11 Infantry Regiment (4 Battalions)
Floranna
B
6
C
12
18
6
1 TL12 Armoured Battalion, 1 understrength TL12 Infantry Regiment (4 Battalions)
Kamperel
A
A
B
120000
180000
60000
3 TL15 Elite Armoured Corps, 3 TL15 Elite Infantry Corps, 3 TL15 Elite Infantry Divisions, 58 TL11 Infantry Field Armies, 3 TL11 Infantry Divisions, 1 TL11 Infantry Brigade, 29 Armoured Field Armies, 1 TL11 Armoured Division, 1 TL11 Armoured Regiment
Kamperelian Republic Ready Reaction Force
Personnel for the Kamperelian Ready Reaction Force are primarily recruited from Kamperel
2801
1 TL15 Elite Armoured Division, 5 TL15 Elite Infantry Divisions, 3 TL15 Elite Infantry Battalions, 2 TL11 Armoured Field Armies, 5 TL11 Infantry Field Armies, 3 TL11 Infantry Corps
Independent Worlds
Lithia/Miazan
C
7
4
1000
1500
500
2 TL13 Infantry Regiments, 1 TL13 Infantry Battalion, 1 TL13 Armoured Battalion
Huop/Miazan
C
5
8
2
3
1
1 TL8 Infantry Battalion, 3 TL8 Reserve Battalions - organised as an under-strength regiment

It is Imperial policy to equip all Unified Imperial Army Units to at least Tech Level 12 standard. This ensures a unity of equipment across all formations. Subsector Army Commands are permitted to upgrade units under their command to higher Tech Levels, but the cost for this upgrade is to be born at Subsector level. During the period when the Miazan Subsector Dukes were also Sector Dukes of the RimWorlds (999 - 1031), Miazan Subsector Unified Imperial Army formations were regularly re equipped with the best technology available, and deployed as a Sector Reserve against the hostile coalitions along the Imperial Border. Even after suffering heavy losses during the 4th Outrim War (1080 - 85), at least a third of the formations assigned to the Miazan Subsector UIA are still equipped to Tech Level 14 standards.

As the bulk of the personnel serving in the Miazan Subsector UIA are recruited from Miazan itself, there is a tendency for the lines of authority between Ducal oversight of the Miazan PDF and the Miazan UIA to become slightly blurred. A portion of the Miazan UIA formations have now been upgraded to Tech Level 15 equipment and these units tend to train with and deploy with Miazan PDF formations.

Notes:
Exxilon has an Exotic Atmosphere (Atmos A). This reduces the number of Battalion Equivalents available (by effectively moving Exxilon's population one column to the left). In Exxilon's case, the Baron of Exxilon has decreed that the Exxilonian Baronial Household Force and six battalions of the Planetary Defence Force would be equipped to basic Unified Imperial Army standards. While this has further reduced the number of units under arms, it has increased the effectiveness of the Planetary Defence Force of this frontier world.

Golus - The 1st Aldeed Golus Scout Battalion has a reputation for producing exceptional desert fighters. Cadres from the battalion are in demand to provide desert warfare training throughout the Sector.

Miazan - As the Subsector capital, Miazan has been the seat of House Geyukthi, Dukes of Miazan and past Sector Dukes of the RimWorlds, for two centuries. The Miazan Planetary Defence Force, equipped to the highest standard, is built around the Household Cavalry Division - part of the Elite 1st Armoured Corp - and the Guards Corp.

Nakaya - Given Nakaya's isolated position, and the proximity of the hostile Kamperelian Republic, the Baron of Nakaya required that the Nakayan Planetary Defence Force be re equipped to Unified Imperial Army standards. This two-decade long project is now in its final stages.

Naltor - The upgrade of the Naltorese Planetary Defence Force has not been as successful as similar projects on other worlds. The megacorps involved in exploiting Naltor's natural resources have been reluctant to contribute to the long term defence of the planet. Consequently, the small Naltorese Defence Force consists of a Light Infantry Regiment and a wheeled Armoured battalion.

Ektra - The raising of a regiment of "loyal" Ektrans was an attempt by the Kamperelian Government to devolve security and reduce tensions on Ektra. The Ektran People's Defence Regiment is equipped and trained to Kamperelian Line Regiment status but morale remains low and the Loyal Ektrans have difficulty in recruiting and retaining personnel. Consequently, the Regiment is only able to muster four battalions.

Floranna - The devolution of planetary security by the Kamperelians on Floranna was slightly more successful than on Ektra, and a battalion of upgraded Miirhorn IV/B Battle Walkers was quickly raised. A four-battalion short Regiment of Florannans was also raised but has proved harder to keep up to strength.

Kamperel - The Republican Guard have become an army within the army on Kamperel. Currently numbering six Corps, with an attached Commando Division and two Marine Divisions, the Republican Guard dominates political and civil life on Kamperel. A further six divisions, with three Commando Battalions, form the nucleus of the Kamperelian Republic Ready Reaction Force. The realization by Imperial Intelligence that the Repubican Guard had been secretly reequipped to Tech Level 15 standards proved a nasty surprise for Imperial military planners. The source of this high tech material has yet to be traced.

Lithia - The Purvion inhabitants of Lithia have settled upon a Tech Level of 4 for their day-to-day lives, in keeping with their relationship with the planetary ecosystem. Their Planetary Defence Force, however, is equipped to TL13 standards with material, it is believed, imported from the Purvion colony world of Tallu/Lymethius.



From these figures, the notes emerge. And from the notes, scenario ideas and background colour begin to emerge. And from a gaming point of view, I now have an idea of the size of the ground forces of the Miazan worlds, and an idea for wargames set in this Subsector.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Website Update #24

Haven't been feeling too flash, these last few weeks, and while we've reached the successful conclusion of Chapter 2 of The Tunnels of Tonivar Traveller sessions, I find myself feeling a slight lack of motivation to write up the story, or even carry on with development work on the Sector Fleet. I put this down to mid-winter blues, and the fact I need a decent break from work.




A few finished figures on my blog.

Friday, 12 July 2013

By Dagger or Talon - revised

A post from Ambush Alley Shawn on the 15mm Science Fiction G+ Group alerted me to the fact that the first supplement for Tomorrow's War is now available for pre-order on the Ambush Alley website.


I've been mulling over rules sets for playing out Traveller ground actions beyond the skirmish level. So far in the running is Stargrunt from Ground Zero Games, and Tomorrow's War. I had been leaning towards Tomorrow's War as a rule system, and the release of By Dagger and Talon, which introduces the alien Draghaur to the Tomorrowverse, has added further weight to the argument.


Edit: I should really double check what I'm writing when tired. The print book is expected to ship with two to three weeks of July 12th. In the current pre-order period, those ordering the print copy of the supplement will be able to get a free and complementary pdf copy of the book for, well, free. I took advantage of this offer today, and have been having a quick look through the pdf. I like what I see and can't wait for my print book to arrive. I have also moved my Draghaur figures to the front of the painting cue.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

w00t!

I came home from work, today (this sounds like the opening verse to a blues song) and found a package waiting for me ...


Bleedin' 'eck! You can land a Scout Ship on this.


Two packets? Or a packet and a box ...


And in the packet - a set of dice, a Travellers' Aid Society membership card in the name of Dietrich hault-Rauln (one of my few characters - I tend to GM more than I get the opportunity to be a player), a Jump Drive and two Cr25 coins.


Close-up of the TAS card - this is a really cool prop.


And inside the box - Captain Jamison's Beard! What a monster!


Two inches thick - you could repel a pack of Vargr boarders with it! Whatta book!


Marc signed the book himself - he signed all two thousand copies that went out to Kickstarter supporters. No wonder it took some time to get them all out.


And a patent of nobility ... pour moi?


Dietrich gets his gong. Another cool prop!


My favourite T5 quote so far is:
My God - it's full of tables.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Aloin's Saga - Solo Traveller #16

Iridium Queen, you are clear on approach vector 231, azimuth 140, at 0.85g deceleration,” the Floranan Traffic Control Officer sounded bored. “Switch to Channel 21421 at 100,000 klicks for Close Orbit TC and docking instructions.”

Aloin tapped the comm key. “Affirmative, Florana TC. Iridium Queen inbound on 231, azimuth 140, decel 0.85,” he said. “Switching to 21421 for Close Orbit TC. Iridium Queen, clear.” Closing the channel, he glanced up at the back of Captain Lukk’s head, even as he reset the main Comm . “We good on that, Captain?” he asked.

“Eh, what?” Elera Lukk asked, starting awake and sitting up suddenly in her chair. Miska Ilurrin snuffle-laughed from Navigation.

“Don’ worry, ‘lera,” she whispered. “Course lock’d. Three hours to Close Orbit. You want t’go lie down fo’ bit?”

Lukk glared at her and then yawned. “Three hours, you say?” she said at last.

Miska nodded. “Me ‘n’ the lad will keep an eye,” she said. “Scan’s clear. One outbound freight’r. Kampie No sign of Kampie Navy.”

Lukk pulled herself out of the pilot’s chair and stretched. She turned and glared at Aloin. “You keep a sharp eye on scan,” she said. “I don’t want any surprises. Speak that freighter once the Light Speed delay gets down to a reasonable factor. They should have news from Kamperel, things like traffic, cargos, or other information we can use.”

Aloin bobbed his head and shunted Scan up onto the main screen. “Yes, Captain,” he said. “The outbound is the Flower of Kamperel, Kamperelian registry. She’s on track for Ektra, by the look of it. We’ll be in under ten second delay in forty minutes.”

Lukk examined the main screen display. The boy’s numbers and analysis looked spot on. She grunted. “You call them in forty, and me in sixty,” she said at last and then hobbled off the bridge, heading for her bunk. Frak, she hated getting old.



“... and average temperature was around twenty-six degrees celsius when we left there, about 178 hours ago,” Aloin said. He laughed. “Humidity was high, though. Afternoon swims were almost compulsory.” The light speed delay was still seven and a half seconds, which made casual chat a chore, but Eisther, the Seconday comm tech on the Flower of Kamperel, was bored, patient, and rather pretty.

“Twenty-six degrees?” she asked. “Gosh, it was just over freezing when we left Kamperel. Van Zaquerl Downport was under fifteen centimetres of snow. We had to de-ice before takeoff. Didn’t want to drop lumps of ice on the housing estates around the starport.”

“Once we offload at Florana, my skipper’s talking about making a run into Kamperel. Anything we should look out for?”

Eisther glanced over her shoulder and then leaned into the comm pickup. “Might not be such a good plan, at the moment,” she said quietly. “Security was at ‘Heightened’ when we left. We had a twelve hour hold because the purser hadn’t completed all documentation. Missed our slot, and the Captain went mega-bilious on him. Busted him a pay grade, too. Then, the System Guard was all over us, outbound, put us in the low acceleration lane and pinged the Captain for not keeping to schedule. So she had another go at Primeday crew, and they passed the proverbial onto us on Seconday.” She shook her head. “Kamperel’s tight for us, and we’re local. You Impies would get old and die in a decaying orbit.”

Aloin laughed. “Okay, thanks for the head’s up,” he said, gesturing “hold” to Elera Lukka as she entered the Iridium Queen’s bridge. “Hey, I’m back through this way from time to time. Perhaps, we can catch up, dockside?”

“Perhaps, Iridium boy, perhaps,” Eisther smiled and then sat bolt upright in her chair, listening. Aloin could hear a muffled announcement over the Flower of Kamperel’s internal speakers. “Thank you, Iridium Queen,” she said, speaking clearly and carefully, “safe travels. Jumping in ten. Flower of Kamperel clear.” She winked and cut the connection.

Smiling to himself, Aloin swung his chair around. Elera Lukk was watching him intently, a quizzical look on her face. Aloin sat up straight. “Captain?” he said.

“Mr Grathikka?” Lukk replied. “I trust you have something to relate, other than tales of your conquest?”

Aloin swallowed nervously. “Yes, Captain,” he said. “Word from the Flower of Kamperel is that the Kamperelians are on high alert ...”

Lukk waived a hand. “Yes, yes, yes, I heard all that,” she snapped. “Kampies on the warpath, a fairly regular occurrence. One day, they’ll actually do something about it, rather than moaning and whining, and then they’ll get their posteriors handed to them on a plate.”

Aloin cleared his throat. “Kamperel’s a High Population, Poor, Industrial world,” he said. “Florana’s a Non-Industrial world. We could pick up a cargo of raw materials of some sort, or even food stuffs, at Florana and make a reasonable profit shipping it to Kamperel. The downside, from what Eisther ... ah, the comm tech on the Flower of Kamperel, said, is that with the Kamperelians so stirred up, we’re likely to hit delays and searches – especially if we get tangled up in their red tape. Also, the “Protection Against Piracy” levy we encountered at Florana is still in place at around ten percent. So heading to Kamperel could be an expensive, and lengthy, trip.”

Lukk cocked her head. “Your recommendation?”

“We unload our freight at Florana, as planned,” Aloin said prompltly, “and then pick up either cargo or freight for Ektra or Omega Vasalai IX, and then do a sweep down the Miazan Main.”

“You’ve given this some thought, haven’t you?” Lukk asked.

“Yes Captain,” Aloin replied.

Lukk, settled herself into the pilot’s chair. “Okay,” she said at last. “Go grab a sandwich and see if there’s any xhu left – you know how I like mine. I need a little time to think.”

As Aloin clattered down the corridor, Miska glanced at Lukk. “’e’s a smart lad,” she whispered.

Elera Lukk grunted. “Wonder if the Flower of Kamperel is headed for Ektra or Omega Vasalai IX?” she grumbled as she began to set up her board for docking at Florana Highport.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Finally! X-Boat enroute.

I received this email tonight:


Marc Miller was hoping to have all Kickstarter pledges shipped by the end of June. Looks like mine just squeezed in. A year in the waiting, I'm really looking forward to finally getting hold of it.

At 2.4 parsecs per week, how long does an X-Boat take to get from Illinois to West Auckland?

Rumour has it, the book looks like this:


I hope to confirm very soon.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Secrets in Sulfur Part 2: On the Trail of the Worm #1

Our cast of characters:
John – Boris Clapshaw, ex Army Infantry Sergeant
Jonathan – Riishaa Daanel, ex Marine
Dylan – Count Asenault “Chivers” Washington-Pipps, retired Marine Colonel
Chris – “Bunty” Staffburger, ex Marine Force Commander

Recap:
Bunty Staffburger meets up with his old friend Count Asenault "Chivers" Washington-Pipps, Chivers' batman Riishaa Daanel and Boris Clapshaw, a friend of Daanel's, on Por’via. The three of them are heading off to do some mercenary work in the Geithurian Republic and have stopped over on Por’via before leaving Imperial Space.

Bunty’s girlfriend, Selia Vuir – a sulfur miner – is overdue from her shift. She has mentioned finding a cache of sunstones – opal-like gemstones – which she had intended to sell, under the counter, to Jorgan Kiorpanos, the local VenGems Holdings agent. Bunty and his companions venture out into the badlands above the sulfur flats to try and locate her. Instead they discover mysterious vargr, vicious alien lifeforms called irrijari, and a buried shuttle craft belonging to a mysterious methane-breathing species called the Mi’yargin. The ship has been on Por’via for around 200 years. The Mi’yargin have managed to save Selia, who was injured by the irrijari, by melding her mind into their Collective Consciousness, while they alter her body to better survive in a methane atmosphere.

Once the companions deal with the Vargr, and with the irrijari, the Mi’yargin shuttle takes off to rejoin its mothership, hidden in the rings of the Por’via system’s gas giant. While heading out-system, the companions realize that they are being followed by the Vargr freighter Akhska that was in port, and which was noted for its crew not speaking Gvegh – the standard Vargr language.

The Mi’yargin Nullship is a planetesimal-sized, icy structure, deep in the gas giant’s ring system. A crater near the equator turns out to be a large, external shuttle bay. Gaining access to the Mi'yargin's internal transportation system, Chivers and his companions are able to ambush Captain Vegh and the Akhska’s crew and seize their ship by emerging directly beneath the freighter through the nullship’s surface. The Mi’yargin Collective, having successfully reintegrated the Collective of the shuttle crew, are able to assist Chivers and his companions in translating some of the information discovered aboard the Akhska, and interrogating the one surviving Vargr crewbeing. The Akhska has come a long way – from Waystar in Cabria Subsector where someone called Aia issues orders to Captain Vegh and the crew of the Akhska. The Vargr aboard the Akhska speak an ancient Vargr language called Arrghoun - older than, and distinct from, Gvegh, the language of most Imperial Vargr. The Arrghoun Vargr refer to their employer as Aeroukh Doaengosra - “Lord (or Prince) Whipworm”. The Mi’yargin Collective wonders if Lord Whipworm may in fact be a Danshihabi, an ancient enemy of the Mi’yargin and referred to, by them, as “thieves and carrion worms”.

The Mi’yargin ask Chivers and his companions to journey along the Akhska’s back trail to Waystar to learn more about Lord Whipworm, and to report back to the Collective at a rendezvous point in the Yuar Outsystem in Cabria Subsector. The Collective turns the Akhska over to Civers and throws in a little something to continue their association – a large, sarcophagus-like object.



The sarcophagus-like object delivered to the ship turns out to be a very old Lowberth capsule, and when this is activated, Chivers and his companions meet Amin Soshousis, a Scout. Exploring the Por’via system in 922, just before the 1st Outrim War, Amin’s Scout ship collided with the Mi’yargin Nullship. She managed to get into her Lowberth before the catastrophic failure of her ship’s life support system. The Mi’yargin managed to retrieve her Lowberth, did a preliminary scan of its systems, and then put it into storage as events unfolded on Por'via, keeping it safe for 200 years.

Music tastes change in 200 years
It takes Amin several days to recover from her extended Lowberth time, and Boris and Bunty are surprised at how well she seems to adjust to the massive time displacement she has experienced. Apart from her slightly antiquated figures of speech, and her very old style Scout uniform, there is little to distinguish her from someone of a more contemporary origin. When asked about this, Amin admits that every day she is having to make little adjustments as she discovers items that work slightly differently, or products that taste or function slightly differently. But, having served as a Field Scout for a number of years, she is used to being transient - never making attachments as duty usually moves one on - and she is used to discovering and experiencing new things. Working a Vargr ship is actually less of a culture shock than discovering all the people she knew are gone and all the bands she used to listen to are now considered Classical Music.

Once Amin, and Knaes – the captured Vargr whom Daanel has convinced to join the new pack – have worked out the basic bridge control layout, the Akhska leaves the Nullship. Slipping back to Por’via in an attempt to recover Selia’s Sunstone stash, the companions find that it has been picked clean. An attempt to hunt down the scavengers, thought to possibly be associates of Jorgan Kiorpanos, the VenGems agent who was killed by the irrijari, proves fruitless, so Chivers and his associates decide to leave Por’via and set out on their mission for the Mi'yargin.

The Akhska is a Gaeouz Class Far Trader, with a three parsec Jump range and 3Gs of acceleration. Having extracted more data from the Akhska’s log, Chivers and his associates have learnt that the ship transited through Evvikkim while heading for Por’via, and that there seems to have been some message traffic between Captain Vegh and an agent of Aia's operating on-planet. Amin is very reluctant to enter Geithurian space, even when assured that some time has passed since the last Outrim War (the 4th which, Amin argues, proves her point as she entered her Lowberth just prior to the 1st Outrim War). Having assured her that they will not remain longer than necessary in-system, they eventually plot a course from Por’via, via Jul'ni and Hiona in Geithurian space, before jumping on to Evvikkim.

On approach to Evvikkim, Amin informs Chivers and his companions that she is picking up an automated message being tight beamed to their ship. The message is in code and in Arrghoun, which the Bunty and Daanel are able to crack. The message appears to be from a local agent of Aia’s, saying that a strange ship has been spotted in the Evvikkim system and asking the Akhska to get word to Aia.

Evvikkim Downport shows signs of decay, as if it was once a lot busier than it now is. Very few Evvikkimians are evident, and all look pale and drawn. Also, no children are evident within the starport concourse, while the bulk of the service work at the starport is performed by gangs of Vargr of different origins. Large areas of the starport have been mothballed, or partially shut down, and many areas are dusty and unserviced, as if no-one has ventured into them in many years. Even snack food dispensers are lightly coated in a film of dust, and are stocked with older style packets of snacks.

Chivers and Boris Clapshaw meet Sholoam Kharii, Head of Security for Evvikkim Downport, a tall and cadaverous Vilani and who, like all Evvikkimians, wears slightly archaic styled clothing. Amin is convinced that she recognises him, and that he was head of security when she last passed through Evvikkim – over 200 years ago. Sholoam seems a little suspicious when Chivers talks of picking up a cargo, and advises Chivers and his associates to be wary of the Vargr groups that frequent the starport, and in particular a group lead by Angtuez.

While Chivers and his companions are out looking for cargos and news, Amin is abducted from the Akhska by a Vargr gang. Giving chase, Chivers and company track down her assailants in an abandoned maze of tunnels between the starport and Evvikkim City and, after a shootout, rescue her from the band of Vargr led by Angtuez.

Getting back aboard the ship, Chivers and his associates are thoroughly convinced that Evvikkim is getting all a bit too creepy, and so they perform an emergency takeoff, damaging the access tunnel to their docking bay in the process. With threats of legal retribution reverberating from the ship’s comm., the Akhska heads for the system gas giant, Lamo VIII, to refuel while a debate rages over their next move.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Iain M. Banks has achieved a Zero Point Energy State

A post on G+ alerted me to the news, this morning. Iain Banks has lost his battle with gallbladder cancer and passed away.

I am currently reading Matter, and have The Hydrogen Sonata to look forward to. And then I can return to the origin point, I guess, and read all his books again.

The BBC News has more details - with various other UK news sources pretty much regurgitating the same press release.

As he was a humanist, I suspect Mr Banks might get a little annoyed about people suggesting that he had gone to a better place. I would prefer to remember him for his "big ideas" science fiction, and suggest that he has now achieved a Zero Point Energy State. My thoughts are with his wife and family.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Website Update #23

I've had a productive week or so adding some new content to my website - a 'How to' guide for assembling a rather nice little Armoured Car from RAFM, and updating my modelling log with a bunch of stuff I finished painting in May - including a number of grav vehicles for my Imperial Marine unit and a Vargr grav tank. The Vargr tank was originally for an alien race called the Kra'vak, but I converted the commander into a Vargr, and that did the job.

As usual, the website's front page is here, the modelling menu is here and the Modblog is here. Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Aloin's Saga - Solo Traveller #15

This picks up the Solo Traveller game I was relating back in December ...



Across the field, the A.K.I. Interstellar freighter Carsuhlan lifted off. The roar of its thrusters cracked through the sticky, summer air. Flocks of small, seed-eating avians whirled and skittered in panic amongst the warehouses and gantries that lined the rim of the loading apron. Lying in the shade of the Iridium Queen’s dorsal turret, Aloin glanced up from the book he was reading on his handcomp, automatically watching how the skipper of the freighter handled her heavily ladened ship. The Carsuhlan slowly circled the field, climbing into the green-blue Naltor sky in a long spiral. A kilometer high, it straightened up and began to accelerate hard. Going transonic, the flare of the main drive slowly faded against the light of rising Secthon as the jet stream gently pulled the vapour trail to pieces.

His eyes tracking down from the departing ship, Aloin spotted movement through the heat haze near one of the warehouses. Checking the chrono on his handcomp, he keyed the send button. “Kiirgun, I think our freight’s on the way.” He winced as he heard a metallic crash from the main cargo hatch below.

Grabbing his handcomp, Aloin eeled through the turret’s escape hatch, dogging it closed behind him. Sliding down the service ladder to the gunner’s station, he quickly checked that the hatch was sealed and armed, before sprinted down the corridor to the downladder to the cargo hold.

Sliding down the hand rails, he arrived in time to see Kiirgun scooping tools back into the toolbox trolley. “Frakkin’ thing fell over,” Kiirgun muttered, flinging wrenches and spanners into the toolbox. Holi Pradeen, the ship’s portly engineer, was sitting in a hammock chair in the breeze by the main hatch and shaking with laughter. As Aloin paused, confused, Holi waved a hand. “I told him the tool trolley wasn’t a good seat,” he wheezed, wiping his face with a handkerchief. “The brakes weren’t on. And then his ‘comp went off, and he jumped, and it all fell over.” Holi began laughing again.

As the haulers pulled up in front of the main hatch, Captain Elera Lukk stumped onto the cargo deck, leaning heavily on her stick. She made a great play of casually filling her pipe and lighting it as the driver from Odinventox was obliged to exit his air-conditioned cab and walk up the ramp to present his waybill. Glancing disdainfully at the proffered paper, Captain Lukk extracted her handcomp from her belt pouch. As the driver glared, Lukk downloaded an electronic copy of the waybill from the local Odinventox server and pinged the request for acknowledgement to the driver’s ‘comp in his hauler’s cab.

As the last hauler pulled away from the Iridium Queen, the starport floods were lighting up. Errai, the system primary, was setting, though Secthon was high and bright and Ninix was rising. Lukk glanced at Aloin. “Yes,” she said, “it was a petty thing to do, but Odinventox – the multi-system megacorp – has messed us around over this freight for nearly ten days. And I took it out on one of their drivers. But, you might have noticed, the arrogance of the masters is reflected in the minions.

“Now, we are not a rich ship, but we are owned free and clear by my family. My family is by no means House Major in status but, on Celephais, we are House Minor, and war heroes, and not without lineage or standing. And so as the Captain of a Free Trader, and as the representative of a House Minor, I think I might expect just a little respect from a truck driver, even one employed by a Megacorp such as Odinventox.”

Lukk blew a smoke ring from her pipe. It hung in the still, sultry evening air as she stared moodily out into the growing darkness. The starport floods were not yet bright enough to blot out the conflicting shadows thrown by the two moons, Secthon and Ninix. “When you and Kiirgun finish the tie-downs, report to the bridge,” she said at last. She glanced at Aloin. “You do have permission to shower first,” she added, and then smiled. “We have a launch window at 2315 and you’re plotting our transit to Jump. I would recommend grabbing something to eat, as well.”

As the Iridium Queen climbed out of Naltor’s gravity well, Captain Lukk stared glumly at her boards. “Four frakkin’ weeks being messed around by three megacorps,” she muttered. Aloin glanced up from Scan. “Kiirgun was right,” Lukk continued. “He said Naltor would be a waste of time. Megacorps fill their own, first, then shipping lines they want favours from, and then what’s left goes to the bottom feeders.”

“Where are we heading, now, Captain?” Aloin asked.

“Kamperel,” Lukk said, succinctly.

Miska glanced at her. “Really?” she whispered. “After all the neg’tive chatter we hearin’? You want t’go there?”

“No!” Lukk snapped. “I do not want to go there but, in case you haven’t noticed, we haven’t exactly been swimming in cargo lately.”

“Word is, they want a war.”

“As long as they don’t want it within the next 1400 hours, we will be in, out, and over on Miazan having a jarus steak dinner with Celephaisian Rum Cocktails.”