- Published: 21 March 2020
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Officially known as U-Rho 454, this sector is more commonly named after the pulsar that sits near the center of its volume. Human inhabitation of this sector is fairly old, first dating to the grand expansion that occurred shortly after the end of the Colonial War and Terran Sphere’s founding. The sector is no stranger to war, for many of the battles of the Kriak Second Crusade were waged through it, and there are scars that linger even now. Still, many of the worlds here have known nothing but peace for a long time before falling to the Shohan’s advance.
Due to its proximity to the Terran Sphere’s core, the sector was one of the last to fall to the Shohan during their march to Stella Insula and the central systems of the Terran Sphere. Since the battle of Zanzibar, the sector has been one of the top targets for the TSN as it looks to push the Shohan fleet back. While the Terran Sphere has had some successes liberating systems in this sector, the situation remains in flux. Even on a liberated world, no one should rest too comfortably as the fleet elements assigned to these systems remain on a high state of readiness.
The sector once had a fairly staid and placid reputation, but the turmoil of the war has brought scavengers into the sector, groups that have little concern for the greater conflict raging around them, save for how they can benefit from the chaos.
Lying near the center of the sector named for it, Alastair’s Star is the last remnant of a long dead giant star: a pulsar with a strong magnetic field encasing it. The lonely relic had hosted a small research station prior to the war that was largely abandoned when the Shohan swept through the sector. Now, with the Terran Sphere’s forays into the sector, the former research station has become the center of Fleet operations in the region.
Like many stars of its type, Alastair’s Star is the remains of a star that had reached the end of its life, large enough to explode in a massive supernova but small enough to avoid collapsing into a black hole in its death throes. What was left was a tiny dense neutron star spinning hundreds of times per second and emitting wilting beams of radio waves from its poles.
Mechanically, an encounter with the Razors may be simulated as a surprise missile salvo of 2d10 standard Kinetic Kill Shot missiles as per the rules for missile salvos. For the purposes of targeting, the swarm has a defacto gunnery task score of 17.
Despite the devastation, the pulsar has developed a planetary system in its afterlife. Four worlds circle the star, 3 terrestrial worlds and one gaseous Methuselah planet - an ancient world from the very beginning of universe. The Methuselah planet, known as Tithonus, is likely to be recent acquisition despite its age as the devastation that occurred when it went supernova would have destroyed the planet. The planet’s extremely eccentric orbit bears this idea out to many scientists that have studied the system. One theory for Tithonus’ presence postulates that Alastair’s Star once encountered the planet’s original star, only to consume it, leaving behind the ancient world as its only gravestone.
Scientists were aware of the star early on in Humanity’s expansion into the stars. However, the star and its system were not properly surveyed until the second wave of exploration and expansion that followed the end of the Colonial War and the formation of the Terran Sphere. A lighthouse for the sector, the system was actually the first in the sector to host a human presence, as a scientific mission has been studying the system since its discovery.
The Alastair system is dangerous to humanity in many ways. While the star is barely visible in the spectrum of light humanity can see, its magnetic fields generate ferocious waves of radiation sweep over the system, and it is all modern radiation protections can do to withstand the onslaught. These same fields mean that non-ansible communication is almost impossible. In addition to the main planets that orbit the star, the pulsar’s magnetic field has swept up numerous pieces of interstellar debris over the course of existence. Swift, dark and fast moving in their eccentric orbits, these bits of debris are known as “the Razors” by experienced Alastair hands, and continue to be a hazard to ships transiting the system.
Although the first pulsar was discovered in 1967, mankind would go nearly a century between discovering gravitic drive and making starfall at one. The scientific community was eager to conduct detailed studies of a phenomenon that had previously been observed only with telescopes. However, the environment created by this pulsar demanded special adaptations, reflected in the design of the station today.
Alistair station is built into a relatively dense nickel-iron planetary core fragment, the planet itself likely having been destroyed in the supernova that created the pulsar. Although this dense material is difficult to tunnel into, the radiation and magnetic shielding needs of a long term outpost made it the best choice for habitation. Originally home to a research team of thirty plus support staff, the Shohan advance led most of the residents to evacuate.
Dr. Alric Tanaka, the project lead, and a few others declined to evacuate with the rest of the staff, unwilling to abandon their long running experiments to rumors of alien aggression. During his self-imposed exile, Dr. Tanaka noticed the arrival of a few Shohan probes. Two arrived on the fringes of the system, far beyond the grav shore, while a third appeared close to the pulsar and impacted. A few more probes came and went over that first year of solitude, demonstrating the same behavior. Using the last dredges of tangle remaining at the station, Tanaka communicated this back to his colleagues in the Terran Sphere. He theorized that the properties of the pulsar created some kind of hazard for hyperspace travel. After the Battle of Zanzibar, some of Dr. Tanaka’s colleagues who had joined Project Leapfrog pushed for the TSN to insert their own observation team at Alistair. So far no one has isolated why this particular pulsar poses such a hazard to the Shohan. Theories range from the mundane: focusing on some aspect of the star’s powerful magnetic field, to the outre: hidden technology from a prior population or some hyperspatial calamity from the star’s death throes. No one in the Terran Sphere is truly certain, although every avenue is currently being investigated.
What began as a curiosity amongst former colleagues has led to a massive influx of fleet personnel and equipment. The station was never designed to accommodate more that a hundred souls, much less function as a military outpost. However, being the only human inhabited system where no Shohan vessel has ever made starfall has made Alistair a hot property. It has become an invaluable resupply point for staging raids and some larger operations deeper into the occupied territories. As such, despite the environmental risks the system has become the Fleet’s central command outpost in the sector. Admiral Aydin of Fifth Fleet was given command of the operations and logistical depot that has been added to Alastair Station’s mission.
Despite its potential as a bastion and refuge from the Shohan, the logistical issues of attempting to build a permanent fleet presence here are daunting. The initial station was not built with the military in mind at all. There was enough docking space for only a few supply vessels and small research craft. Turning it into a permanent fleet logistics hub has already involved extensive construction. Burrowing into the tough material of the planetary fragment is an exhausting task, even for the Terran Sphere’s industrial base. Trying to expand further to a full-on staging area might require more space than truly exists for the station. Between the magnetic disruptions, exotic radiation, other broken planetoid orbital paths and the Razors, usable space is very limited. Most of the effort has gone into expanding the station’s docking facilities and warehouses, which means that the shoreside amenities for docked crews are growing more and more limited. This has caused intense competition for spots in the few bars and other entertainment areas the station currently supports, More than a few altercations have occured when one crew refused to shift out of their favored watering hole when a new crew rolled into the station.
In its current incarnation, the station has one complete docking ring drilled into the metal of the planetary core fragment. This dock can only hold 10 frigate class hulls, and that takes some careful arrangement by dockhands. Another, significantly larger, dock is currently being drilled from the metal. Only a third of the ring is completed but already it can hold as many frigate class hulls as the inner ring, although the competition with construction traffic in the transit tunnels to and from the station proper makes the outer ring a less desirable berth. As a result, this is usually relegated to lesser ship classes such as cruisers which take half to a third the space of the larger frigates, depending on the composition of the ships docked there at any given time. From the docking rings, a number of transit tunnels run to the Promenade.
The Promenade is the centerpoint and largest open area within the station, a space one hundred and fifty meters across with a towering six meter ceiling. This ceiling is covered with a display which mimics a natural terran sky, complete with day and night transitions. The airflow is also altered by algorithm to imitate natural breezes. These illusions of wind and sky help the residents forget the subterranean nature of their homes; a valuable psychological relief for their months- or years-long missions. The ground area is largely devoted to grassland suitable for sport or a picnic along with an orchard of small fruit trees. The cafeteria is located along one wall, allowing for ‘outdoor’ dining. Many of the station’s labs and offices look out onto the promenade, offering those working within the illusion that they are in an office building rather than a tunnel system. Beyond this central point, various modules have been drilled out of the shard in a rough hemisphere surrounding the Promenade. Since the Fleet has taken over the station, many of these have been enlarged to create a warehouse system along with machine shops to help repair damaged ships that make their way to the station. The yard facilities remain limited though, so much of the repair work done on the station is intended only to stabilize a damaged vessel until it can retreat to a proper dry dock.
Master Chief Carla Montgomery
Aide De Camp to Admiral Aydin, black market queen of Alastair Station
Master Chief Montgomery is a prim older woman, about 75 years of age, who has served in the Fleet for some 30 years. Her current posting as the senior non commissioned officer on Admiral Aydin’s staff reflects her administrative talents honed over decades in various administrative positions. Alastair Station, however, has given her an opportunity to try her hand at a new profession: Black Marketeer. As ships began to flood into the system, and the available space for restless crews shrank under the increased demands on the station, the number of disciplinary incidents skyrocketed. It was after one particularly bloody bar brawl that the master chief decided that something had to be done to control the disruptions. It began simply enough by allowing some of enterprising individuals to use whatever empty storage containers were available in the new warehouses as temporary speakeasies. The solution worked, although it required constant vigilance on her part to stay one step ahead of the busy dock and warehouse schedules.
Of course, illicit bars were only the first step. Order on the station needed to be maintained and there were other needs that rowdy service members were looking to fulfill. These days, the bars are a little more full service and the bribes a little more extensive to keep the noise down, there have even been a few unpleasant incidents that needed… a firm hand… to resolve.
On the surface the Master Chief is the model of staff non com: organized, disciplined, on top of everything in her domain with a brisk no-nonsense attitude to Fleet life and its eccentricities. When dealing the PCs, she should strive to maintain a professional air at all times. While she still primarily sees herself as a service member of the fleet, this “sideline” of hers has already caused her to move in ways that even 6 months ago she would have been shocked by. Still, she’ll strive to move through proper channels to deal with threats, harassing those investigating her operations bureaucratically, moving on to tougher measures only after her extensive bureaucratic experience has failed her.
By The Numbers
Racial Tag: Human
Body Track: 15
Noting that the Shohan FTL and communications both use hyperspace technology, the Terran Sphere has decided to use Alistair station to store many of its prisoners of war. Most of the time, these prisoners are kept in cryogenic stasis, as had become the standard for Shohan prisoners elsewhere in the Sphere. When thawed out for interrogation rather than the rage exhibited elsewhere, Shohan prisoners on Alastair station show more confusion and, in some cases, even outright fear or despair. Unable to communicate with their people in the usual manner, they feel exposed and vulnerable. As a result, they are often more pliable and responsive, with their every action poured over by the various researchers gathered at the newly established facility. Beyond passive observation, researchers are attempting to run any number of psychological and sociological experiments to help build their understanding of the reclusive species. Understandably, the Terran Sphere is acting quickly to capitalize on this breakthrough and is planning on transferring more prisoners to the new prisoner facility.
Fleet Intelligence and OGI are gingerly discussing whether to resume attempts at telepathic interrogation of the Shohan prisoners in the new facility. Previous attempts were stopped after the berserk rages they invoked in Shohan prisoners led to numerous casualties. Early efforts, where a telepath sits in a protected area and restrains themselves to the lightest of passive scans have shown that the Shohan prisoners are aware of the telepath but not aggressive toward them as they were in prior cases. The telepaths still report extreme difficulty in getting even the faintest of impressions from the POWs, but for Terran Sphere intelligence this is still leagues ahead of the disastrous interrogations that took place early in the war.
There are, however, those who believe that the connection to the hypercomms is not, in fact, completely severed, only severely diminished, and that these prisoners might still be able to contact the rest of the Assembly. This possible security risk is the subject of much debate. Admiral Aydin, however, is far from deterred. She believes this should be encouraged and exploited and by presenting a target for the Shohan, to force them to come to this system: one of the only known, inhabited systems where the Shohan have disadvantage to their mobility. Admiral Aydin and her staff have run several private exercises around a possible Shohan strike at the Station, but it remains to be seen if the opportunity will present itself, or if their plans will match the reality.
Chief Interrogator Resh’Yar’Tsun’Do
Master of the Stockade
In charge of the interrogation of the Shohan prisoners is Lieutenant Resh’Yar’Tsun’Do, one of the Chiron expatriates who left the Star League to join the Terran Sphere Navy when the war started. His daimyo suffered a particularly stinging rebuke during the Great Humiliation, so a large portion of his company made the jump, though they ended up in many different branches of the Fleet. For his part, Resh’s karashmela, the Chiron equivalent of a PhD, in Xenopsychology has made him an invaluable asset in the interrogation of prisoners of multiple species, including the Shohan.
His primary personality, Resh, is almost invariably the first one to be presented to an interrogated prisoner. Generally, this is approached in a fashion that most humans would recognize as a visit to a psychiatrist. However, Resh is not attempting to get the prisoner to open up on this initial discussion, as much as he is attempting to determine which of his own other personalities would best be able to leverage information out of the subject.
He is usually accompanied on interrogations by his assistant, Second Lieutenant Haqim el-Farred, a recent graduate from the Xan Academy, specializing in Telepathy. Usually just on-hand as an observer and lie-detector, for particularly tough nuts to crack, Tsun in particular is known to call on Haqim to deepen the attunement and dig deeper, since the reduced connection to the hypercomms seems to also prevent the usual berserker reaction to such probing.
By The Numbers
Racial Tag: Chiron
Body Track: 20
Battlefield: Jailbreak (GM Information)
Alastair Station is currently the center of fleet operations in the sector. Were it not for the Hyperspace inhibiting effect of the pulsar, it would be a prime target for a Shohan counter strike. As it stands, the Shohan may be willing to nibble around the edges of the system, particularly if they are in hot pursuit of an enticing target, but will otherwise keep their distance. Unless, of course, they discover the prisoner of war camp.
There are several ways that the Shohan may become aware of the prisoner of war camp hosted on the station. One possibility is that they intercept a prisoner transfer by chance and are able to recover some of the Shohan prisoners. Alternately, if using the material from the Deployment Companion, it’s possible that the Shohan infiltration team presented there stumbles upon the information in the course of their own activities.
While the Shohan will urgently seek some way to free their compatriots from the terrible prison the Terran Sphere has created for them, Admiral Aydin is unlikely to get her wish of a pitched battle where the Shohan commit their forces to such an unfavorable battleground. Instead, the Shohan forces are more likely to focus on harrying ships moving into the system, paying special attention to transports that might be carrying more prisoners to the camp through the outlying stars. Once this becomes apparent, Terran Sphere forces will have two main avenues to respond. The first is to increase the escort strength protecting convoys, at the risk of upsetting the operational tempo of their offensive efforts, The other option is to route ships through deep space, either accepting the risk of manually countering their drives or diverting logistics support to establish a stop over point. Such a point would likely need to keep rotating its position in order to avoid detection by the Shohan who would surely attempt to destroy such a transport node.
Meanwhile, the Shohan will seek alternate means to win the release of the prisoners aboard the station. The Infiltration team described in the Deployment Companion may attempt to stage a jailbreak, using a captured Terran Sphere vessel that has been modified to incorporate Shohan style shielding. Getting access to an isolated fleet base like Alastair Station is quite difficult, but here they may be able to use Master Chief Montgomery’s indiscretions to their advantage; gaining the trust of her black market contacts before organizing a “supply run” for the Master Chief. Along similar lines, the Shohan may be willing to hire non-human mercenaries to assault the base in their name. Similar to the infiltration team, these mercenaries will have been paid with black-box Shohan style force field generators. For the Shohan, this has the added bonus of doing more damage to the Terran Sphere station and forces that have become a perennial thorn in their sides. Whether the Shohan are willing to let them keep their payment however, is an open-ended question.
Finally, and most surprisingly, the Shohan may be willing to talk. In this case, the Shohan may contact the Terran Sphere in one of the disputed systems to discuss a prisoner transfer. For Terran Sphere diplomats, the first chance to talk to the Shohan after years of silent violence is in itself amazing, but they may be disappointed by the limited scope of the negotiations with which the Shohan will agree. Their offer essentially boils down to: releasing X number of prisoners from occupied space in return for the release of all prisoners currently at Fort Alistair, and an agreement that no prisoners be housed there for Y years. From the Shohan perspective, releasing some prisoners now is only a stay of their ultimate fate; if it preserves some Shohan, so be it. Likewise, they are confident that in the specified timeframe, the issue of housing prisoners at the Station will be moot.
Alastair Station Garrison
While the station’s forces have a high turnover rate as the tempo of operations elsewhere in the sector ebbs and flows, Admiral Aydin maintains a few standing forces to defend the system against Shohan incursion, no matter how improbable that seems. The core of this is a set of four Defiant squadrons. With their firepower and lacking the legs or tonnage of other fleet elements they’re well suited for the role, given the Station’s limited docking facilities. Even then, most of these ships remain on patrol to free up valuable docking space, hot swapping in as required. Additionally, with some administrative shenanigans on the part of Master Chief Montgomery, the Admiral has retained the use of two LASCO class frigates that she’s turned into pocket carriers, each holding a full complement of Dragons (24 total, organized into 4 squadrons) and their support crews.
Standard Defiant Squadron
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Defiant Class Cruisers
Standard Dragon Squadron
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Dragon Class Escorts
Elite “Alpha” Defiant Squadron (One Available)
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 22, Tactics 21, Computers 18
Equipment: Defiant Class Cruisers
Elite “Alpha” Dragon Squadron (One Available)
Skill List: Piloting 22, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 20
Equipment: Dragon Class Escorts
During the great retreat following the Massacre of Artemis III, this colony shared the fate of many other worlds, and was overtaken by Shohan. Unlike many other colonies, Diyu never fell to the Shohan and remains under siege to this day. With the Terran Sphere pressing into the sector again, the Shohan are weighing their options for finally ending the siege. It is their hope to prevent the technology behind this successful defense from reaching the Terran Sphere proper by any means necessary.
The Por Nossas Mãos System
By Our Hands or Por Nossas Mãos is one of the inhabited star systems of the Alastair sector. The star itself is an F-V main sequence star about 3.75 billion years old. It is circled by six planets: 3 rocky worlds with only wisps of atmosphere in the inner system, 2 gas giants, and an ice giant on the other edge of the system. The fourth planet, a gas giant called Yùshān for its brilliant green coloration, sits squarely in the middle of star’s goldilocks zone, around which orbits Diyu: the fifth, largest, and last moon of Yùshān. Unlike most moons, Diyu is not tidally locked with its planet, instead maintaining a 5:2 orbital resonance with Yùshān; not unlike Mercury and its orbit around Sol. Uniquely, Diyu also has its own moonlet, christened Saci by Diyu’s settlers after a trickster figure of Brazilian folklore. It’s believed that this lumpy, barely spherical little moon was captured early in the system’s formation, and the transfer of its momentum to Diyu prevented it from becoming tidally locked to its plnet. In the process several of Yùshān’s smaller moons were ejected, some of which have since settled into trojan orbits trailing Yùshān at its L5 point.
The moon maintains a breathable atmosphere and life-giving hydrosphere, but its comparatively low gravity and the gravitational stresses it experiences from its primary have shaped the world into a complex global canyon network with an entrenched river-sea at its bottom. The canyons are broken only by the occasional patch of open sea, mesa top, or more frequently, volcano. This labyrinth helped give the moon its name after the maze-like Chinese hell, although the moon is a considerably nicer place to live than most traditional depictions of this afterlife. Purple toned wall-hugging vegetation climbs the canyon sides and most creatures have adapted to this vertical life.
Diyu's skies are almost always hazy, if not outright cloudy, as the world's warm temperatures, volcanism, and low gravity leave the planet under an almost perpetual shroud. Due to the moon’s passage through Yùshān's magnetic fields it has a highly charged ionosphere that has been hazardous to surface-to-orbit travel. Before they were destroyed by the Shohan, its beanstalks were major engineering challenges to emplace, requiring significant grounding and stabilization work.
Most buildings accommodate the weather and tectonics by embracing a flexible nature. To newcomers, the sight of a village swaying in the breeze or shaking with the earth takes some getting used to. Visitors with motion sickness are advised to sleep on the ground floor to avoid most of the motions.
Settlement And History
While habitable by humanity, the biology, geography and atmosphere of Diyu all made it a rather marginal case for settlement and the system was not highly placed on the newly established Colonial Board's list of colonization projects. As such, the Board was fairly surprised when a consortium representing a group of Operários and Martians submitted a colonization permit request. Confusion may have reigned at the Colonial board, but Terran Sphere revenue services eventually caught on to consortium's plan: the group had planned to combine a number of tax breaks set up for formerly oppressed colonial populations, such as the Operários, with ones for marginal environment settlement intended primarily for settlers on the original Chinese colonies. On top of these they wanted to mix in the standard new colonization breaks to create a tax haven for the venture’s investors. The scheme worked long enough for the colony to find its footing, but in recent years, the Terran Sphere Senate and other regulatory bodies had been working on closing down the kind of loopholes on which Diyu was founded.
In the century since, Diyu has developed from a simple tax haven into a robust financial services sector powerhouse that once controlled a significant portion of the loans for privately owned starships. Many small freight and courier outfits were slightly (and very silently) relieved when the ansibles from Diyu fell silent and payment notices no longer came through. Even though the financial services sector was the lifeblood of the colony, many of the Operários that helped found the colony also stuck to their roots and developed a substantial heavy industries sector in the many decades since its founding. These primarily focused on starship R&D. All of the orbital facilities were lost when the Shohan occupied the system, but the planetary industrial base remains more or less intact.
The government of Diyu is a modification of the Union hall system employed in the Stella Insula System: a series of town halls elect speakers to the Planetary Council, which in turn selects from its number a Planetary Speaker who acts as the Chief Executive. However, the position is nominally limited to running the system bureaucracy and doesn’t offer the holder much in the way of policy making leverage.
Operário(a) (Rank 1 racial tag)
Operários, or Laborers, are the descendants of Stella Insula’s working underclass who were unwittingly subjected to early gene modding by their Zanzibarian overlords. Appearance wise, Operários tend to be tall with little body fat, angular faces and widely spaced eyes. These genemods were intended to adapt the population to the low gravity of the numerous habitats of the Stella Insula system. While parts of the base gene mod package have been reused in other efforts to shape humanity, most notably the Abascians, this early effort had some significant flaws.
In general Operários:
The population of Diyu drew heavily from the Stella Insula habitats, but subsequent generations have mixed with the martian-stock settlers and it’s possible to play either as a normal Terran Sphere human or one whose genes still carry the Operário stamp.
The Siege of Diyu
After the Massacre of Artemis III, Shohan forces swept through the sector as elements of the 3rd and 2nd fleets raced in to replace the demolished 4th fleet. During those years, Diyu served as a forward base for the TSN, and when the Shohan came the fleet fought hard to save the moon. Despite their efforts, it was not to be. The world fell in a final blitzkrieg attack by the Shohan that, unlike Prospero, left little time to evacuate the colonial population or restock the dwindling tangle supplies.
Initially, the Shohan’s full attention was given to destroying the Terran Sphere’s military force and they were content to place a blockade around the planet as they finished driving the TSN from the sector. When they finally turned their attention to the colony nearly a year later, they initially sent a communication to the planetary government informing it of its surrender and the terms under which they would be operating. They were surprised when this communication was met by a fierce rejection by Planetary Speaker Marcela Liu. The Shohan launched a score of drop pods at the planetary surface, expecting to make short work of the opposition, only to watch in bafflement as tremendous lightning arcs in the planet’s ionosphere destroyed the incoming drop pods. They tried this three times before concluding the colony below must somehow be responsible. Determined to punish the presumptuous Terrans, the Shohan commander ordered the hypercannons loose. Energy gathered, building to a lethal intensity before unleashing at the capital of Nova Fortaleza. It splashed across the upper atmosphere, striping away a tiny bit of it, but leaving the settlement below intact.
For the last several years, the same dynamic has been at play. The Shohan have maintained their blockade of Diyu and attempted at various points to establish a foothold on the surface. So far, a few attempts have established beachheads on the planet, and all of these have been destroyed by colonial forces assisted by lightning strikes. While the colonists have been able to hold off the Shohan, there are increasing concerns about the effects of the siege on the moon. Diyu’s ionosphere is starting to become depleted from repeated hypercannon blasts, risking a faltering defense against Shohan aggression in the short term and exposing the moon’s ecology to the hostile radiation trapped in its primary’s radiation belt in the long.
With the Terran Sphere Navy pouring into the sector in ever increasing numbers, the local Shohan forces are determined to breach the defenses of Diyu and prevent whatever secrets the colonists have uncovered from making their way to the greater Terran Sphere. While the Shohan are slow to change their tactics,
some among them have begun to look intently at Diyu’s moonlet, Saci, as a possible means to achieve their objectives.
Escudo de Tupã
Behind the lightning that has stymied the Shohan on Diyu is one Dr. Daniel Corrêa Avelar. The doctor was part of the early research into drive plasma’s effects on a Shohan Forcefield. When Diyu fell behind enemy lines he realized that Diyu’s heavily energetic ionosphere could be tipped over into creating massive plasma-producing lightning strikes. A psionic himself, he has assembled a trained team of energy manipulators that maintain a 24-hour vigil over the world using astral projection to leap into action against Shohan intrusions. The newly formed Escudo de Tupã Corps, named for an Amazonian deity associated with thunder, discovered that the heavy interference from their presence in the ionosphere also disrupted whatever the Shohan needed to do to establish a lock with their hypercannons, causing them to discharge in the upper atmosphere. This saved the colonists below, but at the expense of portions of the planet’s atmosphere that were swept away into hyperspace.
Although he has become world renowned for his creation, he is growing concerned about the effects of his creation on the atmosphere of the planet. He has increasingly turned to researching every bit of the historical archives for information on the Xan’s teleportation, hoping to find a way to break through the siege of his homeworld. As an energy manipulator he, and can feel what his Tupã Shield is doing to the atmosphere.
Battleground: Siegebreakers (GM Information)
Diyu is currently under siege by the Shohan. While they haven’t managed to establish a foothold on the surface of the moon, they have control of the rest of the system. Currently, most of the Shohan’s mobile assets are clustered around Diyu itself, and total 6 Destroyer squadrons anchored by 3 Dreadnaughts. If the game is using the material presented in the Deployment Companion, then 2 of the Destroyer squadrons are Drone Destroyers. The Shohan have also installed a sensor network around Yùshān and its moons, with additional coverage on the approaches from other stars in the sector. In addition to these eyes and ears in the outer system near the grav shore, at least one of the squadrons is dispatched for patrol duties in the outer system. While there are not enough sensor platforms to cover the entire system, the sensor drones and the patrol both remain in constant motion: jumping through the system, hoping to catch the telltale gravitational eddies of a starship crashing its wave on the grav shore. In addition to their mobile assets, the Shohan have established multiple facilities on Saci that serve as logistics, manufacturing, and repair nodes for the siege forces. These facilities mount between 4 to 6 flare guns similar to those found on Destroyers as defensive emplacements and are protected by a force field (Strength: 60). Once that falls, they are easy targets .
Canceling the Apocalypse
For psionics to affect something the size of Saci is a herculean task. An object this size will need multiple colossal-sized (8 strain base) telekinetic thrusters at a maneuver rating of 4. For each round that the psionics are pushing they absorb 32 strain per TK thruster. In most cases this will require multiple psionics working in concert in a Rank 3 Telepathic attunement, which will carry its own strain costs as well. On the mechanical side, each Psionic will need access to a major power supply with a strain rating equal to the portion of that strain they’ll be taking (Major power supplies give +20 strain per rank.) Also, they should be wary of imbibing in Psi-Amps to assist with the strain. The euphoric effects of these drugs can be contagious across mindlinks and may result in a given team losing focus at a critical moment.
The overall commander for these forces is Star-Overseer Crisiant. The Star-Overseer has been in place since Shohan forces swept through the system. Although he distinguished himself well in the fighting beforehand, even among the Shohan he is rigid in his thinking. However, he is committed to his troops and those under him have formed a true espirit de corps. The Star-Overseer has two principle lieutenants; Squadron Warrior Asgre and Squadron Warrior Emris. Asgre comes from a prominent lineage amongst the currently ascendant sects. In so far as such a thing can be said of a Shohan, she is more of a free thinker, and is inclined to push Shohan tactical doctrine to the limit. Among the Siege’s leadership, she is the principle advocate for a “swift resolution” to their current operation. Emris by contrast is a former Overseer and, despite his change in Caste, retains some of his technical proficiencies. Unlike Asgre, Emris cares more about the loss of life that would result, and the idea of brute forcing the solution offends him on a technical level. While the philosophical divisions will be opaque to Terran Sphere commanders in almost all circumstances, good tactics rolls may allow them to observe the differences in their fighting styles and possibly find a way to use that knowledge to their own advantage.
If the Terran Sphere is to make gains into the sector, Diyu, as one of the worlds with the highest population behind enemy lines in the sector, becomes one of the natural priorities. Conversely, even if the war is going poorly elsewhere in the sector, the Terran Sphere may still attempt a raid to reconnect with the stubbornly defiant moon in the hopes that it can reverse the fortunes of their campaign in the sector.
Initial concerns for the Terran Sphere are going to focus on establishing the situation in the system. The Terran Sphere does not realize that the colony is still resisting at first, but analysts may become suspicious when Shohan mount more aggressive anti-recon patrols than normal, or see the strong jamming field centered on the planet. For the Terran Sphere, their response to these anomalies would likely involve dispatching a DIRT team in a phantom to get a closer look at the situation. If this is the players, they have a potential session of playing cat and mouse with the Shohan patrols, observing an attempt by the Shohan to breach Diyu’s defenses, witnessing Tupã Shield in action, only to finally charge hell for leather towards the grav shore with the Shohan hot on their tail. Should they fail, they might have to seek sanctuary on the planet.
Other complications may come from internal sources; many smaller to mid sized shipping lines have benefitted from the unintended banking holiday on their ship mortgages. The unscrupulous or desparate among these shipping lines might be willing to take action against a recon mission to the system, should they find out about one. Their response may range from pulling whatever diplomatic ties they can leverage to redirect fleet efforts or hiring Consultants to sabotage the mission itself. On a larger scale, the Fleet’s plans to retake the system may result in a slow down in critical supplies as shipping interests start dragging their feet when faced with several years of back payments finally coming due. The more diplomatic among the players may help negotiate some form of settlement for these debts on the Fleet’s behalf.
As pressure on the Shohan siege forces ramps up, they may decide they can not afford to let the Tupã Shield fall into the Terran Sphere’s hands, attempting to bring down the moonlet of Saci on the recalcitrant colony to ensure this never happens. Should the Terran Sphere discover this through its recon efforts, it will serve as a dramatic call to arms as the fleet diverts every available resource to the colony’s aid. Such a mission would have multiple avenues for the players to pursue. Some of the possibilities include: ground assaults on the engine bases built into the moonlet to disable Shohan drives, capital ships ramming into the moonlet and using their drives to counter the moonlet’s fall while lighter craft try to fend off shohan counter attacks, or psionics gathering their mental might to help propel the moonlet off its apocalyptic course.
This can be a make-or-break moment for the Shohan and Terran Sphere forces in the sector. While the sidebar above gives an idea of the initial forces available to the Shohan, it’s possible that additional forces can jump into the system once they realize that the Terran Sphere has arrived in force, providing an additional sense of urgency to the rescue mission. If the Terran Sphere can somehow scrounge up the resources, possibly due to the efforts of the players, there is the potential for the Terran Sphere to sweep up some low hanging fruit elsewhere while this battle in ongoing. On the flip side, it’s possible that the sudden rescue mission here put operations elsewhere, in great danger. New Detroit is one possible site where the loss of forces may upset a delicate timetable.
Diyu Siege Forces By the Numbers
Leadership 21, Tactics 21, Gunnery 21, Pilot 21,
[Man Your Lines! 2]
[Duty is Honor 2]
Squadron Warrior Asgre
Leadership 18, Tactics 21, Gunnery 21,
[Let’s Finish This 3]
[Dances on the Blade’s Edge of Propriety]
Squadron Warrior Emris
Leadership 20, Tactics 18, Engineering (Starships) 21, EW Warfare 21
[Blinded Them With Science 2] [Solves Practical Problems]
Dreadnaught Squadron (1)
As per the Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer Skill list
As per the Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer Tag list
Equipment: Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer
Flare Gun Crews (1)
Recently liberated by the Fleet, Vahn’s world is an important source of Tangle for fleet elements and represents the leading edge of Terran Sphere’s counter offensive efforts. However, its time under Shohan Blockade required the Colony to make a deal with its criminal elements that now threatens the stability of the offensive.
The Semaphore System
Centered on a yellow dwarf star slightly larger than the sun, the Semaphore system is jokingly referred to as the sol system, supersized. The innermost planet is, much like Venus, a tidally locked hell hole made even worse by the terminator winds that surge between the day and night sides of the planet. The second world, Vahn’s - named for the Captain of the first survey mission to the system - is quite earthlike, only larger and further out from the sun. The heavy gravity is strong enough to be uncomfortable for those not raised in its grip. Rather than a monochrome moon, Vahn’s World boasts a colorful ring system almost like a rainbow permanently etched into the sky. Spectacularly beautiful, the ring system has been the bane of many a potential colonist, creating a fatal hazard for any attempt to build a beanstalk - one of the mainstays of colonization since the beginning of humanity’s expansion into space.
Beyond Vahn’s World, there are two other rocky worlds that have failed to hold on to significant atmospheres. The fourth world, which is slightly larger than Mars, does support some simple life. Locked under ice topped seas, it is life at its faintest breath. Further out, there is a relatively dense asteroid belt. Three gas giants make up the outer system, each larger than Jupiter, and likely having consumed any material that would otherwise have formed into icy worlds beyond them. The last major orbit is actually occupied by a double planet system collectively known as the Fighters, and individually as Yeoman and Li-Clark after a pair of boxers with a notorious rivalry at the time of the survey mission. Yeoman, the primary world is a gas giant only slightly larger than Jupiter, while Li-Clark is a water/ice giant in a wide retrograde orbit around Yeoman. Although they are currently the only bodies in the orbit, scientists believe that a number of moons orbiting both worlds were ejected or consumed while Yeoman was capturing Li-Clark, and that one of these may explain the ring system around Vahn’s World today.
The ecosystem of Vahn’s World is fairly immature. In the oceans, life is experiencing its first bloom of complex multicellular life, not unlike the Cambrian Explosion on Earth. However, while the seas are home to all manner of strange and unique creatures, the land was relatively barren, with only sparse lichen analogues clinging to the rocks. For the early colonial effort, the blessing of a clean slate was somewhat tempered by the effort required to install entire ecosystems on top of barren rock and sand. Most of the effort has gone into seeding the great northern continent with Terrestrial life, along with a few equatorial islands that serve as resort destinations. Collectively this area is known as the Terrestrial Ecology Zone/Zona de Ecologia Terrestre (ZET) and much of the land outside of it remains the primordial wasteland it was before humanity first set foot on the planet. As a result, the population is faily centralized. Currently, approximately 97% of the planetary population lives within the metropolitan area of Conímbriga, nestled in a fertile valley deep within the ZET.
Settlement and History
The Founding of Vahn’s World traces back to the aftermath of the Takeover, the successful revolt by the disadvantaged inhabitants of Stella Insula and their outsystem allies. While the new political order technically gave the former overlords of the star system a voice in the new government, the Union Hall system that was adopted contained numerous blocks to prevent them from regaining their former stranglehold on power. Over the years, many of Zanzibar’s Executivos grew weary of the rules imposed on their corporate holdings in the Stella Insula Restitution. When ansibles were salvaged from the Kriak and the Terran Sphere first began building its commercial network, a number of younger scions saw an opportunity to seize control of their own destinies. They determined that the Semaphore system was right on the path to the up and coming world of Artemis III and beyond, with an attractive environment for those used to weight of Zanzibar on their bones, and decided to settle there, where a steady stream of colonists and traders could be sold tangle both coming and going.
At the time, the newly founded Vahn Consórcio de Comunicação, or Vahn Com, was the leading colonial sponsor for the colony. While several new Telecom companies have been founded on Vahn’s world in the meantime, the Consórcio remained the dominant economic and political interest on the colony, with little happening without its say so. In recent years, consecutive reformist governments have managed to disentangle the government from the Consórcio to a degree, but the two remain heavily intertwined.
Unsurprisingly, these Executivos had little interest in the Union Hall system of Stella Insula, instead opting for a presidential democracy, one where the executive branch holds a significant amount of power in their own right. “The Five Year King” is a common turn of phrase to refer to the colonial president, and while it is mostly used jokingly, the colonial President does wield an almost astonishing degree of power compared with other contemporary Terran Sphere member worlds. The position has proven to be a mixed bag for the colony. While the current officeholder and his predecessor have implemented necessary reforms, most would agree they were necessary largely due to the actions of previous presidents.
Historically, Stella Insula has had a deep class divide between the people who lived in the orbital habitats and now hold dominance in the system, and those who lived planetside and have lost stature since the successful revolution overthrew the old corporate oligarchy that lorded over the system. As a result, it’s perhaps not a surprise that much of the system infrastructure is located planetside and there were few orbital installations, with those mostly devoted to onloading tangle to passing ships.
Without a beanstalk, the colony is heavily dependent on Telekinetics for surface to orbit transfers. Previous colonization assessments had always stumbled on that fact, but the founders of Vahn Comm successfully recruited a number of Thral to the colonial venture. Today there is a thriving Thral community integrated into the colony, whose telekinetic proficiency has been the backbone of the colony’s surface to orbit transportation network.
When Vahn’s World fell to the Shohan following the general retreat after Artemis III, the few orbital facilities it had were destroyed. For reasons known only to the Shohan, rather than attempt to land on the planet, they instead elected only to erect a blockade around the colony. For the first few months after it was cut off from the rest of the Terran Sphere, the system managed to remain in contact but, as Tangle linked to worlds outside the system dwindled, this contact became increasingly fragmented. By the time of the Battle of Zanzibar, contact had effectively been lost. Because of the recent contact and the planet’s Tangle Industry, the system was a prime target for the Fleet once it launched offensive operations into the sector, while the Shohan were still reorganizing in the months after their loss at Zanzibar. With the Tangle spinners and other communications infrastructure located planetside, the planet’s industrial base largely survived the blockade intact. Since reclaiming the system, much of the orbital infrastructure has been replaced, albeit on a temporary basis, by Fleet engineering teams so Vahn’s world can help feed the Fleet’s prodigious appetite for Tangle.
Sidebar: Executivo(a) (Rank 1 Racial Tag)
The Executivos originally were the white collar administrators and corporate executives who managed the sordid Stella Insula mining operations and shipyards. The envoys of the corporations that exploited the laborers in the system and considered themselves nobility in all but title. Many chose to settle on the high gravity world of Zanzibar, a not unreasonable decision for the time given the often spotty safety record of the various habitats littered around the system. However, while not at risk of sudden suffocation or cancer from improperly shielded living quarters, life on a heavy gravity world does come with its own health risks for humans, and over the years many opted for genetic mods that helped them adapt to the planetary gravity. Life in higher gravity conditions gives the average Executivos a powerfully built physique, but they tend to be shorter and stockier than baseline humans.
In general Executivos:
Vahn and Games In The Dark
As the colony established itself, and the flow of information through the system expanded from a trickle to a flood, the willingness of various officials to be... profit oriented... has encouraged the creation of the thriving black market. Like many planned cities on terraformed worlds, the city of Conímbriga features massive tunnel works, dating back to its founding in anticipation of future expansion. The black markets have taken root down in the tunnels and thrived. So much so that the various black marketeers are collectively known as Tunnel Corps in the city. For the last two decades, these marketplaces have been one of the foremost locales for various islander groups to acquire the seed tech packages that they hope will sustain them in their dreams of independent living on the fringes of the Fourth Population. For various copyright and patent holders the place has been an ongoing thorn in their side, but during the Shohan planetary blockade the black market proved to be a true lifesaver for the planetary population. Its illicit designs and unregistered G3Ps provided a large portion of the necessary goods required to keep the city functioning while it was cut off from the outside world.
Unfortunately, their new found power spurred rounds of gang violence and blood spilled down tunnel drains as the various tunnel corps have tried to consolidate their power. Most of the violence died down prior to the liberation, some say with quiet government intervention. However, with the blockade now lifted and the communications flowing again, organizations like the Consórcio that had fallen with the blockade are rising again. The tunnel corps have no intention of relinquishing their new found power without a fight. The city of Conímbriga finds itself balanced precariously between three major powers: the Government under the leadership of charismatic president Augusto Alto; the Consórcio, emboldened by the military’s ravenous need for Tangle after nearly a decade of fading power; and the newly ascendant Tunnel Corps.
Sidebar: The Tunnel Corps
Despite the consolidation of the underground powers, there are several factions operating in the Underground. Among them are:
Battleground: Gravediggers (GM Information)
In the aftermath of any battle there is always debris and wreckage, and the battle over Vahn’s World was no exception. While the Shohan losses were far from what they lost at Zanzibar, Vahn’s already cluttered orbit is currently littered with wreckage from Shohan. Recovery teams from Project Leapfrog are hard at work processing the battle site, but the ring system complicates the issue. For the various factions squabbling on the planet’s surface, the bounty of Shohan tech, is a siren’s call too potent to resist. The government of Vahn’s World has started hearing rumors bubbling up from beneath streets, and it’s worried. Worried enough that it’s asked the Fleet, Project Leap Frog, and the OGI to help investigate.
Strategically, the Semaphore System is on the leading edge of the Terran Sphere’s counter offensive, and the Tangle it provides is a vital resource for the war. The system must be held and the assembled team is aware of the importance of their mission. At the same time, the various factions vying for control of the colony are more likely to see the investigative team as one more piece they can manipulate to secure their own dominance. Most are more focused on their local rivals than the overhanging threat of the War.
Rumors of what is or isn’t happening underneath Conímbriga run rampant, and no one is sure what the true situation is. The only common thread is that recovered Shohan material from the battle plays some central role. It will be up to the investigative team to discover the truth. Here are a few possibilities:
The Siege Engineer
You are both exasperated by the primitiveness of… everything… you have to deal with on this world, and exhilarated by the sheer challenge of your work. At every step, you work to build the Shohan’s victory upon this world, and while the anxiety you feel at your separation from your fellows is almost overwhelming, you are at times giddy with excitement at the opportunity you have to work beyond the bounds so many of your peers labor under.
By The Numbers
Racial Tag: Shohan (Engineer)
Body Track: 50
Vahn's World Garrison
While the system was more heavily defended in the immediate aftermath of its liberation, the demands of other battles have left the system lightly defended relying on a core of older Frigate classes anchored by a small contingent of Defiance squadrons. The Fleet is unhappy about the lack of standing forces, but has not yet found the available hulls to reinforce the system up to the level where it ought to be.
Standard Dragon Squadron
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Dragon Class Escorts
Standard Defiance Squadron (2)
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Defiance Class Cruisers
Standard Resolute Squadron
Skill List: Piloting 19, Gunnery 18, Tactics 20, Computers 20
Equipment: Resolute Class Frigates
Named the “Place of Holy Things” in the ancient Kriak tongue, TokCalahk is a rarity among the nomadic Kriak: a place they kept as their own. The Terran Sphere Navy forced them to abandon the system in the closing phases of the Second Crusade. For a century afterwards, the great shipyards lay empty, their remains looted and abandoned. Five years ago, as war raged through the sector, the mercantile An’Brik clan quietly returned to their ancestral system. They arrived expecting to perform their usual exploration and salvage operations; however, the system’s value eclipsed all expectations. They had believed that the entire system had been sacked by the Terran expeditionary fleet, and was a mere shell. Instead, they found an ancient site undisturbed, its great prize where the ship chants of old told them it would be. Now with the war distracting the Terran Sphere, they venture once more into the system. Bringing its shipyards to life once again, they hope to construct that greatest of endeavors, a Clanship on which to raise their banner anew.
The Tok-Calahk System On the surface, TokCalahk is an unremarkable binary system: the primary is a common F type white star, while its companion is a small red dwarf orbiting approximately 1000 AU distant. The inner system contains 5 rocky worlds of varying sizes, all with thin atmospheres and none that are habitable. The ancient Kriak who first came to this system simply named them “First”, “Second”, and so forth in their tongue and those names persist to this day, even as the language has shifted around them. There are indications the second world once bore life, although whether it was lost through natural processes or from Kriak siphoning off its resources for their great clanships remains a mystery, as further investigation would have been a violation of the treaty that ended the second crusade.
Beyond these planets lies a thick asteroid belt, strewn with mineral rich protoplanets. It is within this asteroid belt that the Kriak built their ships, although the rocky worlds all bear scars where easily accessed surface deposits have been removed. Unlike the planets, the names for many of these small bodies are far more poetic. Frequently they are named for some variant “An A Bria… “ of “Forebearer of” the clan ship they were mined for.
A solitary gas giant, known as the Rouge Banner for it rusty coloration lies a few AU farther out, with two ice giants making orbiting well beyond the grav shore. During the second crusade, the Terran Sphere staged many of its forces through these two icy worlds, giving them names Charybdis (for the massive storm that raged in its atmosphere at the time) and Scylla as the bloody fighting in the system raged. Several stations from this era remain in orbit, all powered down and left in standby mode.
The companion has no planets of its own, most likely due to the much greater mass of the primary. It does possess a single asteroid belt, rich in its own right, but far poorer than the one surrounding TokCalahk A. During periods of political turbulence, refugees would gather here, hoping to launch counter strikes, or simply gather enough resources to make it out of the system altogether and the asteroids are littered with relics of these periods of strife.
Finally, the entire system is home to a veritable swarm of comets and other eccentric ice bodies that make their long treks in and around the system. Some are surprisingly large, and it was on the greatest of these that the system’s true value was concealed.
History And Settlement
In Databanks of Old
The colossal mass driver which the TSN encountered during their assault was not merely a weapon, although it was used as such during the fighting. Its purpose was to accelerate interstellar probes to significant c-fractional velocities. The Kriak had been firing these probes at stars both near and far for thousands of years. Fitted with immense reserves of tangle and long duration nuclear power plants, these devices were programmed to assume long solar orbits of their target stars. Upon arrival, each probe gathers a snapshot of the system, noting the size, mass, position, and radiation of each body. The data from these myriad probes is transmitted to the Archive. The massive tangle reservoir and data archives of the Core are concealed under the ice of an outer plutoid, a location chosen to ease cooling and limit the likelihood of meteorite strikes.The Kriak controllers may ask any probe for a current snapshot as they wish, however to preserve tangle the monks may go centuries between querying the long-lived probes. The Kriak monks who administer the archive have slept away the centuries as did their dockworker brethren, undisturbed until awoken by the An’Brik. The timing was fortuitous as their icy enclave once again approached the inner system, the traditional herald for the time of ship building, tale telling, and reunion amongst the clans.
At this time, the monks of the Archive have basic data on every star system within about six hundred light years of TokCalahk. Many of their probes have survived centuries and millennia adrift, and could be queried for an updated picture. At the very least, the historical data would be a great boon to Terran surveying efforts. At best, still active probes might have current data on the Shohan homeworlds.
There are many clans of Kriak roaming the starways, each with their own unique history. Carefully tracing these histories shows the times and places when clans grew large, and split in two. Others detail the end of clans that have failed to survive. For three clans, their histories all intertwined at TokCalahk. For uncounted millenia prior to the Second Crusade, these three clans would return to the system and to the Shipyards they had founded there. While the Kriak have ever been a nomadic people, in so far as they staked a claim to any system TokCalahk was theirs. It was a place the three clans would return to time and again over the course of their history to make repairs and commission new ships from its ancient shipyards. To be chosen to be a dockworker was a great honor, even though it meant sleeping away centuries in hibernation while awaiting the return of one fleet or another. The dockworkers became mythic figures among the three clans, living links to revered ancestors, and the parents of the ships that were their very lives. To the Kriak, it must have seemed eternal, yet its end came during the war the Terran Sphere called the Second Crusade.
During the crusade, the TSN expeditionary force went to TokCalahk because their reconnaissance identified the system as a major Kriak base. In the words of one Kriak historian/storyteller: “They did not truly realize where they flew. Where they dared intrude. Fighting was intense throughout the system as fleets clashed against fleets, but the Terrans with their witches and their witch-drive ultimately triumphed. When the Chosen of the Gods fell, and her ship died under Terran fire, the back of the Crusade was broken. It would be years before the fighting truly ended, but end began at TokCalahk.” In the looting after their victory, however, the TSN failed to uncover the reason that the normally nomadic Kriak defended the system with three clanships and their fleets. Even beyond the storied shipyards, the far reaches of the system was home to what the Three Clans called “The Eyes Upon The Universe” and its attendant Archive. The TSN probes and vessels which arrived at the grav shore were all immediately drawn to the swarms of activity in system, dismissing the outer plutoids and other Oort Cloud bodies with barely a glance.
The treaty that officially ended the second crusade required that all parties abandon TokCalahk. The Terran Sphere wanted to keep the Kriak from restarting their shipyards and building more raider fleets. The Kriak saw their holy system turned into a graveyard, and wished to keep it undefiled. Although as the victors of the conflict, the Terran Sphere might have pushed to claim TokCalahk, they had numerous nearby systems of greater interest, and so accepted the terms.
The An’Brik, Te’mok, and Zis’mu clans were all but annihilated in that crusade, their clan ships lost. Ejected by an expansionist Terran Sphere, they eked out a living over the decades by trading with other Kriak and anyone else willing. Extensive trade among themselves has merged the clans in all but name, to the point that most of their young have an out of clan parent.
Then, the War broke out, and the Terran Sphere was distracted.
Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?
Correctly believing the Terrans distracted by their war with the Shohan, the An’brik took the opportunity to revisit the site of their great defeat. There they discovered that the shipyards were not as damaged as they had thought. As the war deteriorated for the Terran Sphere, the Te’mok, and Zis’mu clans were invited to help repair the long dormant foundries and began to build a new clanship. The intense effort required to build a clanship is consuming the engineering expertise and labor of all three clans, and it remains to be seen if the Kriak will fully merge into a single clan with a new clanship, or if they will attempt to build three ships.
Kriak security is extremely high. The three clans are acutely aware of the clanships that were lost here, and are adamant that their newest not be lost in similar fashion. The grav shore has been posted with early warning satellites along likely entry vectors, while the three clans have stationed the majority of their fleets around the shipyard. The Kriak would no doubt like to keep their revived shipyard covert, but if the secret is out, they will settle for defense.
The TSN would no doubt be interested in the recent construction as well. The reactivation of the shipyards places the Kriak in violation of treaty. Were they not already at war, the TSN would no doubt revisit the system. The losses incurred during the last crusade seem to have cost these Kriak their taste for violent piracy, leading them instead to survive by salvage and trade. But, perhaps the crusade did not remove their taste for piracy, only their ability? Will a new clanship prompt the Kriak to resume raiding? Given the war against the Shohan, can the TSN muster enough force to stop the construction of the clanship? Perhaps the TSN could give diplomacy a try, presuming that old hardliners in the admiralty don’t shoot first.
Battlefield: Loose Lips (GM Information)
Most taverns along the spaceways don’t synthesize Kriak intoxicants, but the Jovian Glitch makes a point of tempting every sentient to walk through the door. A Zis’mu trader, surprised to find his favorite beverage at a human establishment, overindulged, and let slip that construction of a new clanship was underway. The Zis’mu’s taste for violence seems to have died with their original clanship in the second crusade, and with the war on the construction of such a large vessel is of minor concern. Unfortunately, he also let slip that an ancestor of his oversaw a tangle reservoir greater than any known. “Gotta thousan probes. Mor’an a thousan. Need lotta tangle fer all tha.” That sort of whisper can travel very far in a crowded tavern…
For any Admiral, the thought of a resurgent Kriak power in the middle of the Terran Sphere, in the middle of a war with the Shohan is likely enough to make them wish the uniform came with brown pants. However, the Strategic Signals Division is salivating over the idea of a sensor network of this scope just waiting to be tapped. Should that loose lipped Kriak’s words make to the Fleet, it’s likely they will organize a mission to the system with all possible haste, but who is calling the shots on this? The players might be here to sabotage the clanship and/or yards. Perhaps they are here as diplomats, seeking assurances that these clans won’t turn piratical once they have another clanship. Or perhaps one is cover for the other and even members of the same team might not share the same mission objectives as factions inside the Terran Sphere lock horns with one another.
Private or self employed players have a simpler task: they are likely here for the rumored probe data. They may desire a conventional trade compact with the Kriak, or may use negotiations as a cover for espionage, but the Archive’s data is the jackpot. Private interests could use such data to leapfrog conventional exploration and surveying efforts by decades. At war’s end they could immediately race out to claim choice systems for themselves, while competitors are still organizing their expeditions. For the fringe, one of the greatest problems with islander colonies has been finding a good system to settle that hasn’t already been claimed under the law of the Terran Sphere or another power. The Kriak will under no circumstances give up the Archive, but may be persuaded to trade some of the historical survey data. Players might be able to break into the facility to steal such data for themselves, however it is all recorded in ancient Kriak language and units of measure. Deciphering that could prove a greater challenge than stealing the data in the first place.
The Kriak, meanwhile, are unified more by their project than their ideology. The An’Brik see a clanship as the capital of a mercantile empire. The Te’Mok wish to strengthen their defenses against what is clearly a violent universe. The Zis’Mu seem to be in it for the prestige. They simply want tomorrow to be much like today, only better. Underneath the factions, there is a cross faction group of hawks that still seek revenge against the Terran Sphere and other races of the Fourth Population. The group does not have much in the way of official support among the officers and ship lords but their cross faction ties do give them some advantages.
Officially in charge of the clanship project is Jethara Birik. Daughter of the system’s last harbormaster, Jethara escaped the Terran assault with a group of Zis’mu technicians. She was instrumental in convincing the Kriak survivors to work together across clan lines, a task that she kept at for decades. It was her influence that caused the An’Brik salvagers to alert the other clans to their findings, and her force of will which led the three clans to join together reopen the old foundries. Although lacking technical skills herself, Jethara sees the clanship as her baby, and will beg, cajole, or beat the three clans into seeing it done.
Outsiders, on the other hand, are a problem. Jethara knows she can’t afford to start a war, and doesn’t want to kill anybody. However, the clanship must be completed. Visitors will be politely interrogated as to their origins and intentions. Jethara needs time and secrecy to finish construction, things she will trade for or sieze as prudence dictates. The construction of the clanship is too big to hide from observation, however the Archive is still well concealed in its ancient icy abode. The Kriak will deny the existence of such a thing as long as they can. The players will need to walk a fine line, being neither so insignificant that they can be chased out of the system without consequence, nor hostile enough that the Kriak feel the need to kill them.
Jethara Birik - Harbor Master of TokCalahk
The last child of the Harbormasters and Dockworkers that once maintained the sacred shipyards and crafted the great Clanships of old, Jethara has been able to parlay respect for her father’s position into a defacto Ambassadorship and adjudicator among the three clans, mediating dozens of conflicts over the decades. Now with their return to the great shipyards and the frozen monastery, it was only natural that she take up the post her father once held.
“May the Dearly Departed Gods of Old give me strength!” - Each shift is just another million challenges to deal with, so why not have some outsiders poking around too? Somehow when father was telling stories of the Harbor, he forgot this part.
By The Numbers
Racial Tag: Kriak (Social) Initiative: 5
Action Points: 6
Body: 25 Target Numbers:
Once considered the crown jewel of the sector, Prospero was a world of peace and serenity where refuge and wisdom were sought in equal measure. Now, under the Shohan, it has become a training camp for their infiltration teams, and a grim parody of life in the Terran Sphere, with brutal undercurrents. The occupation is fueling a vein of righteous anger that threatens to explode as a new, unpredictable tempest.
The Bard System
Bard is a binary system and shows signs of some trauma in its distant past, although no concrete theories have been proposed that take all of the facts into consideration. The primary star, Bard A, is a yellow G-type star, larger than the sun. It possesses 9 planets, equally divided by two asteroid belts into sets of three worlds. By convention, each set is known as a Folio.
The first folio contains: Puck, a tiny little world whose orbit is an incredible 70 degrees off the orbital plane of the system. Its highly elliptical orbit swings it from being the closest planet to Bard A to second place at its furthest point. Portia, normally the second world from the star is far more conventional; a dry terrestrial world with a nitrogen-methane atmosphere. The world is routinely considered for a Gaian terraforming project, but every negotiation on the matter has broken down. Finally, Prospero, the only life bearing world in the system. Prospero supports two tiny moons: Miranda, the closer of the two, and Ferdinand the larger moon, which appears smaller from the surface due to its distance from Prospero. Ferdinand is a captured body in a retrograde orbit. On some nights the two moons seem to approach one another from opposite ends of the sky in an event known as the lover’s kiss. The planet’s surface is dotted with five continents, with most of the settlements on the continent of Ariel, which stretches across the equator to the mid northern and southern latitudes
Past Prospero lies the asteroid belt that demarcates the first and second folios from each other. This asteroid belt, informally known as the First Binding, was the sight of most of the system’s heavier mining industry. Its relative closeness to Prospero enabled freighters to make transits between the belt’s refineries and the beanstalks of the colony.
Opening the second folio is the double planet system of Romeo and Juliet. The two planets are both smaller than Mars. It is estimated that in another few hundred million years or so the two planets will finally collide with one another. The presence of the Star-crossed Lovers, as they’re collectively called, and their eventual fate inspired the naming theme for the system. The last planet in this folio is Viola, the smallest of the gas giants in the system, akin to Uranus or Neptune in mass and size. The planet has a spectacular ring system, likely the result of a collision between a stray asteroid and a now defunct moon. Before the occupation, Port Illyria in orbit around Viola was one of the major transit stations in the system, its lighthouse array pushing light luggers in system or catching outbound ones.
The asteroid belt officially known as the Second Binding, and by cautious spacefarers as Iago’s Belt, for the hazards it poses. It is a far more ragged structure than the First Binding. Perturbed by the gravity of two giants to either side, there are gaps where asteroids have been swept away, clusters where they swarm and a thousand or more rocks in retrograde orbits. Ships transiting through the belt are well advised to keep a close eye on scanners. Compounding the problem is Macbe - The Scottish Planet. (The old theater superstition has carried over to the planetary namesake.) The largest of the gas giants in orbit around Bard A, the planet sits firmly on the grav limit for the system. The Jovian glitch caused by its gravity well has been the bane of many a captain forced to burn extra fuel after being caught up in it. Port Birnam, the station responsible for servicing the area, was known to have the highest refueling costs in the sector. Finally, the two remaining gas giants are Lear and Othello. Both of which have highly eccentric orbits. Most astronomers speculated that they were disrupted by the capture of Bard B before settling into their current orbits.
Bard B, the companion star, is a larger red dwarf. Although it is orbited by only one planet, Hamlet, that world is a monstrous Super Jovian. Its planetary system is extremely complex with over 60 major moons, many in unusual orbits and many extremely large, even given the great size of Hamlet. The prevailing theory is that the giant swept up a number of planets during its formation around Bard B, and then again, swept up a number of outer system bodies when its star was captured by Bard A. The complex orbital dynamics made it a popular site for starship rallies. Today the stations all lie abandoned.
Settlement And History
Prospero was the first inhabited world in the sector. Technically, the world was settled before the start of the Colonial War, as the first settlers arrived the year before the outbreak of the war. They decided to evacuate shortly after the Chinese incursion at Alpha Centauri and the colony remained abandoned for its entirety. It was not long after the Treaty of Mars was signed that many of those same settlers returned to restart their colony.
There are many reasons why Prospero was such an attractive candidate for colonization: proximity to the nucleus of the newly formed Terran Sphere, agreeable climate, and high biocompatibility with terrestrial life are among them. The truth of the matter is that Prospero is special. Most would consider it to be among the most beautiful worlds in the Terran Sphere, with lush green vegetation, bright azure skies, and a brilliant yellow sun. The world seems saturated in color. But this is not the true reason for the world’s appeal. Instead the world is home to what is known as the Prospero Effect. A sense of tranquility seems to pervade the air here. Those on planet report higher levels of contentedness and peace of mind than elsewhere in the Terran Sphere. The effect isn’t only psychological. Other studies have confirmed that Psionics recover faster from using their arts, and injuries heal faster at a small but statistically significant rate. Despite many studies documenting its effects, no one is quite sure of the cause.
The Prospero Effect
While on the surface of Prospero, characters may freely invoke the system tag [This Rough Magic] on meditation rolls or medicine rolls that treat the injured. Additionally, during a refresh, characters may turn the tag and use resulting the action point towards recovering from damage (Corebook, p189), although they may not use the tag again until the next session.
Thanks to the Prospero Effect, the colony has gained a reputation as a retreat for the wounded, or simply those seeking something higher in their lives. Several branches of Ascendantism consider the world to be sacred including the Tóngxīnfǎ (Corebook, p101), which became a sizable minority on the planet prior to the War. Alongside the retreats, shrines, and temples that beckon to pilgrims, the Altaira Academy was considered an elite school for the Psionic arts. There were also a number of cutting edge medical complexes, including a TSN facility, that leveraged the unique circumstances of the planet for the benefit of their patients.
There are some enclaves scattered throughout the countryside to support the pilgrims and other seekers that make their way to the planet. Most of the population had settled in and around Cape Nielsen, with the city of the same name serving as the capital of the colony. The sprawling town hugs the coastline of the cape; meandering down to the beanstalk footing at its southern tip. Nearest to the Beanstalk footing is the area known as South Port. The district is the industrial section of the city, home to heavier fabrication shops and transient housing for business and other temporary visitors. Above South Port, on the eastern inner edge of the Cape is the neighborhood of Bayside. Considered one of the cultural centers of the city; it hosts various marinas, boardwalks and public beaches. The outer edge of the cape has been set aside for Ocean Dunes Park, a natural preserve overlooked by various residential high rises. Continuing north is the city’s Chinatown. Although exclusive ethnic enclaves are rarer on Colonial worlds, Cape Nielsen’s community was founded by refugees from areas of China devastated by the Bombardment who wanted to preserve their cultural identity. Many of the first Tóngxīnfǎ shrines were raised here, and the community was important to this branch of Ascendantism. Finally, in the hills overlooking the Cape is Carpentier Heights. Often called simply “The Heights”, various hospital complexes, treatment centers, and laboratories that make up the heart of the medical community on the planet are interspersed in the suburban neighborhoods that dot the hills.
The city was a beacon of the visual arts, whether it was Ascendant iconography, avant garde galleries, or the murals and graffiti that dot the cityscape. Many prominent artists of the Terran Sphere have lived or worked here since its founding. The celebrated artist Marcos Li remarked: “I could have watched the waves breaking on a dozen different worlds, but when looking out across the ocean here, I was compelled to stay and tell the story of those waves. I’ve never looked back since that moment.” Although the visual arts were always at the head of the table in Cape Nielsen, other artists always flowed through the city like the waters of the bay, seeking their own insights; poets and playwrights, musicians and mystics, all looking for a whiff of inspiration in Prospero’s air. It’s understandable then that while the planet was largely evacuated prior to falling into the hands of the Shohan, its loss was second only to the defeat at Artemis III as a blow the Terran Sphere’s morale. Indeed, the final battle there strained its defenders past the breaking point.
Sword of the Xan
As it became clear that the Terran Sphere would have to yield yet another world to the Shohan, the Bard defense force and part of the TSN fleet refused the order to retreat. On open comms, Commodore Gerard Clairvaux, highest ranked surviving officer of the defense force, berated the retreating squadrons in stark religious tones for its constant cowardice, then rallied forces into a headlong charge against the Shohan forces. It was the last sight that retreating ships had of their erstwhile brethren. Almost all believed that Clairvaux charge, glorious though it might have been, could only have led to their deaths.
Despite appearances, the breakaway force did not die that day. Clairvaux adroitly lead his ships on a fast run through the Shohan forces, to the Grav Limit, and deeper into Shohan controlled territory. However, Commodore Clairvaux feinted yet again and ordered his ships to crash their waves in deep space before reaching the nearest star and backtracked, bringing them to Bard B and Hamlet’s moon Claudius.
Every body of sufficient size has a grav limit. For many rocky worlds, whether moon or planet, this limit is actually below the surface of the body. In the case of Claudius, however, the turbulence it underwent on its way to its current orbit created deep gashes across its surface. Some, deeper than the Marianas Trench on Earth, actually dipped below the grav limit of the moon. Commodore Clairvaux, through a combination of clairvoyance, impressive piloting and foolhardiness, was able to lead his ships into one such fissure after escaping the Shohan at Bard A.
By The Numbers
Mechanically, a deep dive like this begins as an Impossible Pilot check. The pilot will need to find some (every!) edge he can in order to step down the challenge rating of the roll. The Sword of Xan makes every use of Clairvoyance generated tags for this, along with the local knowledge of crew like the Commodore, but pilots may invoke other tags as appropriate to attempt the same feat. Failure should be considered lethal to the ship, if not the crew themselves.
As the ships settled into orbit around the moon, Clairvaux revealed that he had received what he believed was a message from the Xan, showing him how to track the Shohan using a Prophetic Net: a method utilizing multiple prophetic attunements inside a concordance where the gaps in the vision reveal the Shohan’s location. In the year since their separation from the Terran Sphere fleet, this technique has allowed them to stay one step ahead of the Shohan. Its success has helped solidify Clairvaux’s vision of Tóngxīnfǎ Ascendantism among the ship crews and raised his standing to nigh living saint status. Long Concordances, sometimes lasting entire shifts and involving an entire ship’s crew, are now commonplace and their fervor only grows day by day.
Functionally, the Long Concordance is a rank 3 telepathic attunement. During a Long Concordance, prophetic visions are able to reverberate and be shared through the members, allowing them to be seen from multiple perspectives. While they can't directly see the Shohan's actions behind their force fields, they're better able to see the shape of the reactions. As a result, the resulting Clairvoyance tag can be condemned and consequenced against Shohan targets. This ability only lasts as long as the Concordance is maintained and costs 1 point of strain from the Concordance per Clairvoyance roll, multiplied by the resulting Tag’s rank. There are side effects, however. Chief among them Telepathy Induced Dissociative Disorder. TTID is a rare diagnosis in most of the Terran Sphere, usually linked to those without psionic training - or not enough training - who spend a great deal of time in high-level psionic attunements. It is believed that these individuals become used to the presence of other thoughts alongside their own, and become incredibly anxious, uncomfortable, and even panic-stricken when not in such an attunement. Affected individuals will retreat from their own identities, sometimes refusing to answer to their name, or attempt in a to mimic the Concordance through behaviors such as conversing with themselves. After the first several documented cases, the Xan Academy started researching ways to combat and prevent the phenomenon. Common treatments recommend extremely individualistic endeavors, such as art, to reinforce the notion of the self. The disorder may be taken as a Wound Tag by non-Psionic individuals who spend long periods of time in Concordances, especially during combat.
While Prospero makes the journey possible by providing a navigational marker for the Spirit Walkers, it would still be impossible without the team of acolytes that remain behind at Claudius. While the Long Concordance can shift away the strain costs the Spirit Walkers bear. Once the Spirit Walkers arrive they still operate on the planet under considerable limitations:
The Sword Of Xan may be ever unified in their faith, but their ships are a motley. The battle line’s backbone is a small squadron (4 ships) of Intrepid class frigates. This is supplemented by a variety of cruisers and lighter craft that they’ve been able to salvage from other systems. Many are System Defense Craft: the Pocket Cruisers that were the TSN’s bane. These ships lack gravitic drives, therefore the Sword has outfitted a recovered freighter to act as a Carrier, although it is by far their most vulnerable warship. The core of their support staff are a few big Locust Industrial ships that were discovered trying to escape from the Shohan occupied systems before the Shohan caught up to them. Most of the original crews are still on them. For many the relief they felt when the Sword’s ships first offered to escort them to sanctuary has soured as they have been forced to remain at Claudius with their ships commandeered by the Sword for their own ends.
The Sword does not have access to the Plasma weaponry designs that the Terran Sphere has developed. Instead, their engineers have kitbashed together scavenged drive systems to mount on their ships. The modified ships can use the Turn and Burn maneuver at Standard rather than Hard challenge rating but Step up the difficulty of the ship’s Evasion Roll next turn and uses 2 units of Fuel for each turn that they do so. Most of the modified ships are the System Defense Craft, their most expendable units while the heavier combat craft hammer away at any ship whose force fields have been breached.
By far the most important project the Sword has undertaken is Project Vigil. The name is a reference to the Vigil of St. Gereon, when he was lost in the Void and the Xan appeared to him. Some of the most skilled psionics of the Sword set out astrally into the void, making the journey from Claudius to their homeworld of Prospero. For most Psionics, travel across the vast void of space between worlds would be unthinkable. With no frame of reference to ground themselves, they quickly lose their way. Go too far and the line back to their bodies can weaken, leaving a Psionic lost, all alone in darkness and starlight. One Psionic who was fortunate to escape such circumstances likened it to being trapped in an avalanche and not knowing which way was up or how to escape. The psionics of the Sword who undertake the Vigil, christened Spirit Walkers, have an advantage. They can hear the faint call of Prospero, even out as far as Claudius, and can drift towards its call. Even so, it is a long, lonely, and dangerous journey.
The Man and His Vision
Gerard Clairvaux is a giant of a man, standing nearly 7 feet tall. His face is strong featured with piercing dark, nearly black, eyes and close cropped hair. His movements are swift and certain, although he walks with a slight limp and frequently wears an exoskeleton assembly on his right leg to deal with this old injury from his time in the Marines. Burning with a mixture of faith and outrage, he continues to lead his brethren in their struggle. Quietly, however, he worries that he is becoming an avatar of his people’s ambitions more than a man.
Gerald is a man of convictions. He speaks firmly and passionately in a way that people instinctively respond to. He believes fervently in the Holy War that he has been called to wage. He is not needlessly cruel, but he is unstoppable in what he believes is required of him in this conflict. Since he took his ragtag fleet on this crusade, His constant concern is for the burdens that have been placed on his people by his crusade, and whether he is able to lead them well through this time of turmoil. If there is any key to reasoning with the man, it lies here.
By The Numbers
Action Points: 5
Occupation: The Inside Out Room
The breaking of the Terran Forces at Prospero fell was made more shocking by how smoothly the evacuation had gone. When it became evident that the Shohan were going to advance towards Bard, the population of Prospero was able to evacuate in good order. Most hoped they would be able to return to their beloved home. As such, the colony’s infrastructure was shut down safely. Even the beanstalks were left in maintenance mode, in the slim hope that the Shohan would leave their beloved home unmolested once they saw the colony was abandoned. Instead, the Shohan saw an opportunity.
As the Sword watched from their outpost on Claudius, they saw Shohan escorting transport after transport, all of Terran make, to the planet. The determination to discover the Shohan’s plans for their beloved homeworld helped inspire Project Vigil. When the first Spirit Walkers finally made their pilgrimage across the void to Propero, they found the empty streets of Cape Nielsen filled once more. On the surface, Cape Nielsen seems to be any colonial town in the Terran Sphere. People work, go to cafes, take the train back to their apartments. In other words, they go about their lives. Of course, this is far from the truth.
When the Shohan saw the empty city spread out before them, they saw an opportunity to change strategy. Throughout their conquest, they had swept up small outposts, fleeing starships, and other odds and ends of humanity along with the various colonial worlds. Originally, most of these individuals were sent to the nearest occupied system to share in the fates of those colonists, assuming they didn’t disappear for other purposes in transit. With the capture of Prospero, the Shohan begin to route these miscellaneous prisoners to this world, settling them in the empty city.
As the population swells, the Shohan, under a midrank overseer by the name of Eira, have turned it into a parody of the Terran Sphere. While on the surface everything is normal, in reality, every single aspect of life in Cape Nielsen is monitored by the Shohan. Dissidence is dealt with swiftly and without remorse. The Spirit Walkers have deduced that the occupation runs on some sort of points system. Those who cooperate with the Shohan’s instructions earn points, which can lead to relaxed restrictions, extra rations, even some light privileges. Those who cause headaches for the Shohan, even minor ones, lose points. Loss of all of one’s points earns a one way trip to the Heights. Those who are taken there are not seen again, though what exactly the Shohan are doing with the prisoners is the subject of much speculation.
It’s this points system that enterprising prisoners try to game in order to orchestrate an escape. Unlike some other occupied worlds, there is not much of an organized resistance, as any such large gatherings tend to be noticed and rapidly dispersed, often with several trips to the Heights. Those who manage to escape often attempt to take refuge in various places away from the eyes of the Shohan. Difficult due to the constant orbital surveillance, but not impossible. Those inclined to escape the boot of the Shohan have found options: the dense forest/jungle cover, natural cave systems, or some of the more remote monasteries. Much care is needed in attempting to escape. The natural inclination is to gather points to gain privilege, which can then be turned into supplies that can be used to attempt escape, and/or survive off the land once out. However, with too many points comes increased responsibility and attention from the Shohan. Too few points, and risk getting harassed on a regular basis.
The various medical establishments along the Heights proved to be a treasure trove of information for the Shohan. Unlike Shohan interests deeper in their occupied space, the work done at Prospero does not directly involve the Altered. Instead, most of it is basic medical research into understanding human biology. In essence, Prospero serves as the control group for their research projects elsewhere. A side benefit of this research has been the creation of Shohan infiltrators that can pass for human. The transients captives that are swept up in their advance provide any number of cover identities for an infiltrator to utilize.
But perhaps the most cruel part of the occupation is the goal the Shohan had in re-establishing a human community, even if it is a mockery of the colony that once thrived here. Ultimately, this prison-stage provides a place for SOAP teams (Deployment Companion, p15) to hone their ability to blend in and pass as humans. It is unknown how many infiltrators-in-training have slipped into the human population, but what is known is that those who notice and speak of it soon find themselves taken away to the Heights.
For the Spirit Walkers holding vigil on the planet, there is little they can do directly when they are so far from the source of their powers. Instead, they attempt to subtly nudge things in the right direction when action is called for. Most have begun to use their telepathy and clairvoyance to make contact with the local populace to offer guidance and comfort, gaining new adherents for the Swords’ Vision in the process. The Shohan have not yet caught wind of this religious awakening among their captives. No one is sure what their reaction would be, but few within the Sword would expect it to be anything but the harshest of countermeasures. They are surprisingly wrong. Overseer Eira - should she ever discover the underground religious movement - would see it as the greatest test of her infiltrators’ abilities yet, hoping that one among their number might be able to find the whereabouts of the Sword and remove a thorn from the side of the Shohan forces in the sector. Despite her knowledge of the Terran Sphere, Eira would likely underestimate the importance that Psionics play in the Sword, leaving her infiltrators far on the fringes of the movement as they dare not risk entering the Concordances that form the backbone of Ascendant worship. From this position it would take all of their skills in subversion to gain any truly useful intelligence, but Overseer Eira is willing to be patient given the potential prize.
The Humanities Major
Overseer Eira is one of the few Shohan that Fleet Intelligence has a file on. Before the war, Eira was one of the Shohan assigned to Ambassador Davi’s liaison team. There she was a minor functionary whose ambitions had been thwarted by an assignment far away from the center of power in the Shohan Assembly. Despite what she saw as an exile, her meticulous nature led her to spend her years in the Terran Sphere studying everything she could regarding the Fourth Population and the Terran Sphere specifically. Her whereabouts in the years since the war are a mystery, but she seems to have resurfaced on Prospero, leading the SOAP program built there.
Overseer Eira has always been one for thinking her way around a problem wherever possible, rather than direct confrontation. Patience and diligence have always been her strengths, and when pressed, words are her first weapon of choice. She will always attempt to engage in a war of words before actual weapons. She studies her opponents, learning what she can and playing on insecurities. On the flipside, this line of communication gives social players a chance to turn the tables on her.
By The Numbers
Race: Shohan (Overseer)
Action Points: 5
Battlefield: The Tempest (GM Information)
Bringing a battle fleet into Bard is difficult. Even when the Scottish planet is in a favorable position, ships must carefully transit the outer binding. Barring a rare planetary conjunction, they must then make a naked dash across the second folio and transit the inner binding to reach Prospero.
For raiders and spies, the system is quite favorable. The bindings which hinder a fleet formation offer individual ships excellent cover, either to evade pursuit or to sneak in system. Patient captains may arrange starfall to occur on the opposite side of the sun from Prospero, move into the inner binding, and then ride an asteroid for several months until they are quite close to the planet. Raiders can use the asteroids, particularly the outer binding, to stage ambushes. The mix of standard and retrograde rocks in Iago’s belt even allow for an ambush from both sides, provided the enemy can be lured into the correct position. For Terran Sphere planners, mostly unaware of the planet’s value to the Shohan, a raid against Prospero is a perfect opportunity to weaken Shohan forces in the system and divert resources from more important targets, such as Fort New Detroit and Diyu. It is unlikely that the Fleet will gather significant forces for the raid, preferring a fast strike in and out. Just enough to rattle the Shohan. The flip side to this is the potential for the PCs in a game to hold senior positions in the force, and to have a chance to truly step onto center stage.
MacBeth’s glitch in the grav limit dictates arrivals to some degree. Ships arriving near it revert early, and thus burn more fuel to pass by. Conversely, Macbeth is an obstacle for any ship retreating past it. The Shohan have revived their long disused grav wave calculations to understand why, and so do not expect to receive Terran probes from certain stars while Macbeth is in the way.
Unfortunately for the Terran Sphere, that is likely the only advantage they receive. While the colony appears only lightly defended to scouts, this is a bluff. Overseer Eira is well aware of reports of ships operating behind enemy lines and has moved most of the forces designated to protect her system into deep space, awaiting the moment that an unwary force makes its way towards Prospero. Her plan has never been sprung, in part because the Sword’s forces have been in position long enough to spot the outlying forces. Reconnaissance from the Terran Sphere does not have this luxury of time. Additionally, thanks to her oversight of the infiltrator teams, Overseer Eira is extremely well versed in the capabilities of Terran Sphere technology and its naval doctrine, which provides her with an unexpected edge in countering the invading force’s moves. For player characters that encounter her, they should feel almost like she’s using clairvoyance to guess their moves as the Shohan forces react to the fleet.
There’s still one more player that needs to make their grand entrance: the Sword.
Having raided and spied upon Bard for years, the Sword’s routines are broken by a clairvoyant vision; the TSN will soon raid Prospero in force and it will most likely be a disaster for them. Commodore Clairvaux intends to add his forces to the raid, hopefully turning the attack into a rout for the Shohan. The Sword fleet, in order to arrive with the maximum surprise, will make a sustained realspace burn from Bard B. Crossing the outer system with cold ships on a ballistic trajectory, they will slingshot around Macbeth to hopefully arrive just as the TSN engages. Executing their trademark burn maneuver in a high speed strafe will be difficult, but with the Shohan distracted by the TSN, Clairvaux believes it will be decisive. If the TSN does not show, their escape plan is to burn harder in system rather than brake for battle, slingshotting around the sun in order to reach the grav shore as soon as possible.
The TSN reaction to the arrival of the Sword’s force is mixed. On one hand, reinforcements are always welcome, especially in an operation that has rapidly gone downhill. On the other, the Sword barely acknowledges the TSN, going for close burn maneuvers that foul naval targeting solutions. From here there are several directions the battle could take. The Sword may fight to see the Shohan fleet decisively defeated before taking up orbit around Prospero, or, they may leave the Shohan fleet to the TSN while moving directly for the planet. The Sword moving to attack Prospero, with or without the Shohan defeated first, places the TSN in another quandary. The navy came here on a raid, and is not prepared to land troops on world. The Sword, on the contrary, is eager to retake the ground. When Commodore Clairvaux starts landing shuttles, does the TSN try to send down what marines they have? If Clairvaux compensates for his limited ground teams with selective or even indiscriminate orbital bombardment, does the navy intervene? Does the Commodore, fearful of the infiltrators hiding among the populace, order the entire colony purged to prevent them from spreading? In all of this, how do the fleet officers, at the limits of their orders and training, react? Are they willing to start a three way fight against their erstwhile fellows, or will they stand back to let the former Bard Defense Force reclaim their home by any means necessary?
After the battle, the Sword of the Xan’s legal status is a thorny issue, assuming they even stick around within the system. The former Bard Defense Force personnel disobeyed direct battlefield orders during the evacuation, and as such ought to be arrested pending court martial. They have also press ganged civilians into service, conducted illegal salvage, and occasionally stolen from TSN supply lines. Did Clairvaux’s heroic liberation of his homeworld earn him a reprieve, or has the brutality he ordered in the reconquest added to the charges against him? Either way, Clairvaux is unlikely to submit to the Terran Sphere authorities for a trial, nor would his people stand for it. It’s entirely likely that if pushed too far, the Sword will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Admiral Riley and the original Havenites, cutting a path out of the system through tightly stretched Terran Sphere forces back into occupied space. In this case they would be even more determined to wage their crusade against the fallen Shohan and infidel TSN alike.
For the Shohan infiltrators who have been training on the colony, its fall presents them with an ironic opportunity to slip into the Terran Sphere. Should the Terran Sphere regain possession of the colony from the Shohan and the Sword, it will have to develop some method to detect the infiltrators unless it wants to keep the entire colony on lock down. Such a situation is sure to displease both the newly liberated inmates and the dispossessed former inhabitants. Even with a lockdown, the Sword of the Xan or private smugglers may see a number of Prospero’s former residents at large in the Terran Sphere. All of this assumes that the Terran Sphere and the Sword carry the day, of course. With the raiding force’s unpreparedness and the lack of coordination between the two forces, it is entirely possible for the Shohan to drive them both from the system. In that case the ambitious Overseer Eira, once confined to a single system, may have won the standing she needs to ply her hand across the sector. Such would be a dangerous state of affairs for Terran Sphere, given the time and energy she’s devoted to learning everything she can about her human foes.
Sword of the Xan Frigate Squadron (1)
Skill List: Piloting 19, Gunnery 21, Tactics 21, Computers 19, Clairvoyance 22
Equipment: Intrepid Frigate
Sword of the Xan Escorts (3)
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 21, Tactics 18
Equipment: Modified Pocket Cruisers
Sword of the Xan Crusaders (5)
Gear: Standard Power Armor, Security Gauss Rifles, Incendiary Grenades
Dreadnaught Squadron (1)
Skills: As per the Dreadnaught Skill list
Equipment: Shohan Dreadnaught
Destroyer Squadron (5 Squadrons: 2 In System, 3 Reinforcements)
Skills: As per the Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer Skill list
Equipment: Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer
Dreadnaught Squadron - Reinforcements (1)
Skills: As per the Dreadnaught Skill list
Equipment: Shohan Dreadnaught
Shohan Garrison (3)
Skills: Melee 22, Heavy Weapons 22, Athletics 20, Tactics 20, Stealth 23 [Special]
New Detroit is the current flashpoint between Terran Sphere and Shohan Forces as they battle for control of the sector. Once an exemplar of the Terraformer’s art, and a training post of the Terran Sphere marines, Shohan missteps on the planet have created a revealing ecological catastrophe and an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
The Bunyip System
The Bunyip system is somewhat small, with a star that is less massive and dimmer than Sol and 5 planets revolving around it. The first 4 are rocky worlds. Black Rock, the closest to the sun, lives up to its name as a blasted rock. Further out are two venusuvian hell worlds of Mojave and Sonoran. The final rocky world, almost at the edge of the Star’s grav limit, is New Detroit.
New Detroit, a super terrestrial world with a surface gravity of 1.21Gs and a 28 hour rotation, is the primary life-bearing world in the system. Despite its distance from its star, the world hosts a diverse range of climates across its 11 continents. The largest of these is Cadillac; officially named for the soldier who built the original Fort Detroit, not the Automotive brand. Cadillac is slightly larger than Eurasia by land mass and stretches from the northern to the southern pole as one unbroken land mass. The continent also boasts the longest river in the sector, the New Mississippi, running from the southern highlands to the northern Pontiac Bay in the upper northern latitudes. The entire river system is 5 times the length of its namesake on Earth, and some aquatic species will swim the entire length in order to return to ancestral spawning grounds.
The planet does not boast any natural satellites, although during the Terraforming process a mirror array was stationed in orbit to provide the semblance of moonlight over sections of Cadillac for the sake of imported Terran species. Due to the lack of natural moonlight, a significant evolutionary divide has developed between daytime and nighttime ecologies. Many species are only active during one or the other, and choose to burrow or retreat to some kind of protective lair to hibernate in their off cycle. For the night time ecology, it bears many similarities to cave ecologies: loss of pigment and poor eyesight being the two most common adaptations. Enhanced hearing, echo location, or sensitive whiskers that can track air currents are other common adaptations. On both sides of the divide predators will frequently evolve methods to track sleeping/hibernating prey to their lairs and strike while they are vulnerable.
The final world of the system is the gas giant of St. Clair. The gas giant orbits outside of the grav limit of the star, which has made it a useful shortcut for ships arriving at the right time. When planets are positioned correctly, they can surf to the system, maneuver outside the grav limit, make the hop to St. Clair’s grav limit and then dive back into the system towards New Detroit. The planet’s largest moon, Hazen, is mostly ice encrusted, but despite the overall frigid temperatures, it has developed a sparse ecosystem and even a thin but breathable atmosphere. Prior to the war, there was some ecotourism to the moon, but the few permanent settlements there were abandoned as the Shohan came closer to the system. Port Lernoult orbited at the edge of the planetary grav limit to act as a stopover point for travelers, but was abandoned during the retreat from the system.
History and Settlement
New Detroit is one of the older colonies in the sector. The colonization process began soon after the Treaty of Mars was signed and the Terran Sphere was established. Biogenesis, then a fledgling firm with lofty ambitions, took on the terraforming contract. Their work on the interface between the native ecology and Terran imports helped make the firm’s reputation, and even today is seen as a masterpiece in grafting an entire new branch of life on to an already established world. Even today, students of the terraformer’s art come to the world to study the work done on the planet, and Biogenesis has maintained a regional office on planet.
The colony was originally conceived as a refuge for many of the displaced groups looking for homes in the Colonial War’s aftermath. Additionally, the Terran Sphere Navy also saw value in establishing itself in the system, using it as base of operations on the opening frontiers of the Terran Sphere. The frontier has moved on, along with many of the Fleet’s ships with it. However the climate diversity made it appealing to the Terran Sphere Marine Corps, as it offered a wide variety of environments in which to train for ground operations. Fort New Detroit, the colony’s principle settlement, has grown up around the training camps that operated here, and the world remained a popular place for retired TSN personnel to settle down.
The city that grew up around the fort is a orderly town, spreading along the banks of the New Mississippi. While Fort New Detroit was the largest settlement, the colony has diverged somewhat from the standard colonial model of a mega-metropolis that holds the overwhelming bulk of the planetary population. Instead, there are a number of mid-sized cities, mostly scattered up and down the New Mississippi. Among these cities are New Memphis, Hawking Falls City, and New Baotou along with a number of smaller towns and villages. The proximity of all of these to the great river system of the New Mississippi makes riverboats and barges of all sizes common along its length.
Beyond the terraformers and the military, the economy of New Detroit was diverse but fairly typical in other respects. There are a few robotics subsidiaries and a number of firms focused on R&D for the Terran Sphere Marines, but nothing that truly rose to exceptional prominence in the Sphere. The most notable exports for the colony are agricultural products such as coffee and wine that have benefitted from the planet’s unique terroir.
The New Mississippi Blues
The colony was the last world to fall in the sector as part of the Shohan Advance. Unfortunately, during the final push into the system, the Shohan were able to ambush the transport fleet sent to evacuate the system before they were able to reach the planet. This has left most of the population trapped on New Detroit.
As the last fleet elements were forced out of the system, a Shohan occupation force settled into orbit around the planet. This is where things went awry for the Shohan. In their first act, the Shohan sent a force to the Biogenesis headquarters. Reports are sketchy but by all indications, the Shohan rapidly retreated from the installation and the installation was destroyed from orbit shortly after.
If the Shohan hoped to prevent subsequent events by destroying the Biogenesis facility, it’s clear that they failed. In the months following the event, the Shohan mainly stayed in orbit around New Detroit, aside from a few raids intended to destroy weapon caches and disrupt the surviving marine contingents on the surface. In the meantime, the colonists began to notice strange plants blooming in their midst. These plants had sharp, shiny blue-black leaves and pale, iridescent stalks. At first this was only a few plants sprouting in the ruins of the Biogenesis base and the surrounding environs. The invasive organisms have spread exponentially since then. Half of Fort New Detroit has now been consumed by strange forests that echo with the cries of dangerous feral beasts that have sprung up from nowhere.
Worse still, the Blue Zones, as the colonists have come to call them, have been spreading up and down the New Mississippi river system, threatening the rest of the colony. In the months following the Shohan possession of the system, the colonists have found themselves pressed between the Shohan and the Blues, and it is cold comfort to many of them that the Shohan seem to struggle against the Blues as much as they do. From what colonists have seen, while they can subdue the Blues and even exert some control over the strange ecology, it has also been clear that doing so requires their full concentration; if it wavers, they’ll be viciously attacked.
Beasts of a Different Color
Most of the organisms found in the Blue Zones are not inherently dangerous, just seemingly voraciously invasive, but there are some genuinely dangerous organisms to encounter in the alien forests that have taken over many parts of Fort New Detroit. Fortunately, many of these are seemingly late stage creatures, only showing up once a Blue Zone is well and truly established in an area. Here is a select sample of some of these creatures.
A rodent like creature with dense fur, these creatures live in tree top colonies. While otherwise harmless, they possess acute senses and their sentries can detect even stealth suited soldiers, raising ear piercing alarms that can betray a unit’s position.
Tasks: Detection 24, Athletics 18, Melee 15 Tags:
This otherwise unassuming waist-high stalk sprays highly corrosive acid when disturbed.
Tasks: Melee 17
Caustic Spray: Area: Small, Bleed: 5x (Major)
A parasitic vine that lives high in the forest canopy, these blocky looking flowers will occasionally blast high intensity radio waves that interfere with communications and sensors.
Tasks: Jamming 19
Communications (Minor), Area: Large
An antlered creature standing some 2.5 meters tall, the Trample Elk is covered in a mix of fur and hardened bony plates. The males also sport an antler system that can reach almost 3.5 meters across. The bone and antlers of the Trample elk are so tough that militias have sometimes used it in place of proper armor kits for their troops when materials are scarce. The beast gets its name from the trails of beaten and broken vegetation they leave behind while they forage as well as the extreme territorial response of the males who will charge and attempt to gore any perceived threat, including soldiers moving through the Blue Zones.
Action Points: 2
Armor: 3 Battlefield
Melee Attack: 4x (Firefight)
Tasks: Athletics (Ground Only) 18, Melee 18, Detection 17
These monstrous creatures are found only in the deepest interiors of the Blue Zones. Capable of downing a Trample Elk in one swing, the Quake Snake is an enormous burrowing snake-like creature that can erupt from its subterranean lair and drag down large creatures in a few seconds. The longest confirmed creature was 14 meters long and nearly 3 meters at its widest.
Action Points: 2
Armor: 2 Battlefield
Melee Attack: 4x (Battlefield)
Tasks: Athletics 18, Melee 20, Detection 20, Stealth: 18
There are repeated reports of elusive humanoid shapes moving through the woods. So far no one has been able to capture any kind of reliable sensor recordings of these supposed creatures, and they are the subject of all manner of tall tales and wild claims. Some say that they can leap from the forest floor to a branch some ten meters up. Multiple sightings also claim that they were protected by some kind of innate force field. There’s one Militiaman who will swear sober and drunk that he saw one “just fade into existence, like his skin was some kinda damn stealth suit!” Whatever the truth is behind these rumors, we leave to the GM to determine.
Since the Terran Sphere was pushed back from the system, the defense of the planet has fallen to militias raised from the large number of former fleet personnel that have retired here. Thanks to the prior military background possessed by a significant fraction of the planetary population and the myriad training stations on the planet, the militia is fairly large, well organized and decently equipped. The local R&D facilities have even turned out arms and armor customized for their use. Unfortunately, many of the militia members are older, even by the standards of the Terran Sphere, and a significant percentage of the industrial G3Ps and other manufacturing capacity was lost to the Blue contaminated areas of Fort New Detroit. Overall command for the planetary defense is held by Commandant Maximillion Tanaka, formerly Commandant Emeritus for Fort New Detroit and widely regarded as one of the most experienced ground forces commanders in the Terran Sphere. Ironically, for a man hoping to enjoy a quiet retirement, he now finds himself in command of one of the largest ground force operations ever mounted in the Terran Sphere.
Currently, the militias are roughly the equivalent of 2 TSN divisions of personnel. Structurally, the bulk of this are infantry, but they’ve been able to put together an understrength wing of air support, and a larger group of river patrol vessels that are primarily tasked with monitoring and containing the spread of the Blue ecosystem. Somewhat ironically, the River Patrol actually has one of the lowest percentages of ex-Fleet personnel. A large portion of its manpower is actually drawn from the planetary forestry and firefighting services. Its members grimly attempting to burn out new growths of the Blues before they become too deeply rooted or inhabited by more advanced organisms. One of the challenges that the Commandant and his staff face is that while his officer cadre is strong up to the company or even battalion level, there’s a lack of experience running larger ground forces. The militias have compensated to some degree by utilizing more intercompany networking, but it remains a work in progress and the Commandant is looking for personnel that can fill some fairly large holes in his org chart.
The militias may be well organized and well armed, but they are facing some significant threats. In addition to the environmental hazards posed by the Blues, the Shohan still retain the orbitals and have spread a heavy ground presence on the planet. No one is sure if they’re working to spread the Blue, contain it or simply monitor it, but their forces are most concentrated in the regions where the Blue ecology has established a foothold. Whether because of their soldiers’ proximity, or some restraint regarding the contaminated regions, the Shohan have refrained from orbital strikes in the areas where the Blue has established itself. Other places have not fared so well, and the city of New Baotou has been reduced to craters by the Shohan dreadnaughts. As a result, a large portion of planetary population has holed up in areas like the edges of New Fort Detroit and the outskirts of other Blue zones. The Shohan periodically attempt to dislodge these enclaves or attack the militia teams sent to contain the spreading Blue Zones.
Despite the twin threats the Colony faces, there’s at least some good news on the horizon: they’ve held on long enough for the Terran Sphere to regroup and win some fights for a change. At long last, the cavalry's here.
Sample Militia Gear
Designed by the Wellspring Armory subsidiary on planet, this enhanced armor suit is adapted to the resources available to the militias. Because they are largely cut off from outside supply, the ability to construct modern protective materials is limited. Instead, the Ranger Armor focuses on stealth, mobility, and force fields which were just starting to be developed by the Terran Sphere when the colony lost contact. However, their force field technology is somewhat more primitive than the version that the Terran Sphere would eventually field. While the suit has a low innate armor, the designers did include an attachment system to add additional armor plating as material becomes available. The suit contains a limited life support system, mainly intended to protect the users operating in the Blue Zones.
Communications: Radio (Minor)
Computer: Minor 3 (18 Target, 5 Tasks)
Life Support (Minor) - Limitation: 6 Hour filters
Armor Kit (Ranger)
A set of reinforced plates that can be inserted into Ranger Armor to increase its armor rating.
Infantry level plasma weaponry was still on the drawing board when New Detroit fell. The local weapon designers have done their best, but the lack of materials and access to the knowledge base of broader research community has hindered their efforts. The end result is the Plasma thrower; a short range weapon with two modes: a continuous burning stream or a single heavy blast.
Acoustic deterrents have long been used to scare away nocturnal pests on New Detroit. Militias initially found success with the technology against the various beasts of the Blue Zones, but have unexpectedly discovered that the sound waves used in the technology can place additional stress on a force field operating in an atmosphere.
Battlefield: Diving Deep (GM Information)
The second battle in the Bunyip system was indecisive. Called the Battle of St. Clair by optimists in the Fleet, the Terran Sphere forces under the command of Admiral Zehun were able to regain control of the planetary system of St. Clair, its moons, and its port station. Additionally, they’ve been able to establish sporadic contact with the Colony, enough to get a sense of the picture on the ground. However, they were unable to dislodge the Shohan from their position over New Detroit and the colony is beginning to face serious shortages at all levels. Fortunately, the admiral and their staff have a plan to finish the job.
Resupply Run By - By the Numbers
GMs should treat this as two strafing runs (Corebook, p192) by the Dragons and Bridgeheads involved; one to bring them into short range with the planet and the Shohan forces, and one to take the Dragons out to far range. On their turn, the pilots/squadrons may spend an action point or battlestrain in order to roll to establish a defensive margin, but until then they are vulnerable as per the strafing rules. During the second turn GM will consequence the [Coming in Hot! 3] tag against the Bridgeheads, requiring a Hard piloting check, on a success they make a clean landing, on a failure the GM may impose penalties in the form of destroyed gear, target lock by the Shohan, or have one or more of the players accept a wound tag in return for an action point.
Should the players inquire: mission planners did originally consider Phantoms for the resupply mission, but even if they successfully slipped through the Shohan in orbit en masse they would wind up grounded on the planet. Fleet Command doesn’t have enough of these vessels in the numbers that it would take to absorb the operational losses of having that many grounded. Still, diplomatic players might be able to convince commanders in Fourth fleet to commit a squadron of Phantoms to help cover the retreat of the resupply force.
In a few months time the orbits of New Detroit and St. Clair will bring them into a close alignment. Before then, Fleet engineers are rushing to repair and upgrade the massive transit lasers once used by the station to push light luggers inward. Meanwhile, the Terran Sphere is planning a relief drop to the colony to deliver critical supplies, troops, and a small cadre of scientists to help study the Blue Zones. As envisioned by Fleet planners, the heavier fleet elements will dive from St. Clair to Bunyip’s grav limit, launch a raiding force of Dragons and Bridgehead shuttles, before retreating to St. Clair and repositioning themselves along the grav shore on the opposite side of the planet to pick up the raiding force and dive back to St. Clair once more. The Dragons will be charged with covering the Bridgeheads as they make the radical deceleration maneuver needed to land on the planet, then scatter before the Dreadnaughts can fire on their landing zones. Once the Bridgeheads have made their landing, the Dragons will have to make their way out to the rendezvous point at the grav limit.
The resupply operation carries some significant risks. On approach, the ships are likely to face volleys of fire from the Shohan Dreadnaughts with limited ability to maneuver. They’ll have to trust their speed and their force fields to carry them through the barrage. Even on the planet, the LZs for the the ground force are all in Blue territory, hoping to capitalize on the Shohan reluctance to bombard these areas. The Terran Sphere marines and their auxiliary crews will have to make a quick march through the hazards of these zones to link up with the planetary militias. Up above, the Dragons will still need to extract themselves from the the engagement. For them, the most dangerous possibility is that the Shohan may use their jump drives to leapfrog ahead of departing forces, give themselves enough time to clear whatever disables the Shohan post jump and re-engage the fleeing craft; turning the quick raid into a gauntlet. Mission planners hope that the presence of heavier fleet elements waiting at the grav limit will deter this to a degree.
And of course, the is only the prelude the main event begins a few months later...
Beyond providing support to the beleaguered population of New Detroit, the primary objective of the resupply mission is to keep the Shohan focused on the planet and away from the work being done at Port Lernoult. When the system fell, the station was abandoned. The Shohan did a cursory job punching holes in it to disable its systems, including the transit lasers that were used to push light luggers in system and brake those coming out to the station. Now fleet technicians are working round the clock shifts to repair these behemoth laser rigs and upgrade them for Admiral Zehun’s plan. It is imperative that they finish on time for the close opposition (when one planet comes between another and its primary) of New Detroit and St. Clair, for there is only a short window for the attack to commence. A Shohan raid that managed to inflict additional damage to the transit laser complexes has the potential to be devastating, and it’s the duty first of the groundside fighters and observers to keep their attention, and then of the fleet elements guarding the station to prevent that from happening.
Admiral Zehun and their staff hope that with support from the Transit Laser Array their fleet can finally drive off the Shohan forces. If the Shohan commander is worth their salt, they’ll take steps to mitigate the Laser Array’s effectiveness. This could be a counter attack on the station that defending forces have to drive off. It might mean detailing a dreadnaught to jump out between the Port, and the raging battle and hold open a hyperspace portal that can absorb incoming fire. A final possibility is that the Shohan attempt to either maneuver through the Terran Forces, or even jump if necessary to the far side of New Detroit, imposing the colony between themselves and the Station’s fire. The player and GMs should feel free to consider these and additional options.
The Battle of New Detroit - By the Numbers
Once the port’s transit lasers engage, pilots working for the Terran Sphere will have the option of replacing the Turn and Burn maneuver (Corebook, p193) with an attack from the Transit Laser Array, as they lure ships into the sweep of incoming fire. In the initial round, the difficulty will be Standard as the Shohan are caught unawares, but returns to Hard on subsequent rounds. The laser array has a Weapon Multiplier of 12x and possesses the Counter: Armor attribute. Because the shots are essentially coming in blind due to light lag, the Shohan Force may attempt to edit off of tags, such as a [Turn About Is Fair Play] tag generated by a Piloting to check to generate friendly fire on the Terran Sphere ships, but this is considered a Major Edit, costing 3 action points, a Rank 3 tag, or the equivalent in Battle Strain. Port Lernoult’s array can only supply fire support for 5 rounds of combat, after which it will be offline for weeks if not months of repair work to fix the damage that overloading it in this manner caused.
Leading enemy forces into the fire from light house stations as a tactic originated in the First Kriak Crusade. Ansibles have made the tactic more effective with better coordination between the station and the mobile forces. Even now it requires careful prep work from both the mobile elements and the station trying to pull it off. The focusing elements in the lasers need to be retuned, capacitors installed, and firing charts are not just distributed to the fleet but also trained against, until the pilots know instinctively where the shots are going to be and can use them to their advantage.
That’s Why They Call it the Blues (GM Information)
Even before the final battle, any science teams that make it to the ground during the resupply run are going to be working on determining what is going on with the Blue ecology that is creeping across the planet. Whatever happened at the Biogenesis facility, the site and all its data are gone. The remaining management at the firm’s headquarters claim they don’t know anything about what might be going on, and all indications are that they are telling the truth. Survivors on world might know some details or might be able to direct players to off site backups that, while deep in the Blue Zones, would likely still be intact. Initial examinations of Blue organisms show some similarities with the Shohan, but also distinct differences. Like the Shohan, the organisms from the blue Ecology apparently encrypt their genetic information, and there are indications of an unknown nanotechnology operating in the Blue ecology. However, that nanotechnology is significantly less organized than what the Shohan possess and shows no ability to sustain itself outside of living tissue.
So what is the Blue and how are the Shohan related to it? Here are some possibilities:
Regardless of its origins, even if the Terran Sphere is able to liberate New Detroit, the clean up effort to contain the Blues will take years, possibly even decades.
As the current fulcrum of the war in the sector, New Detroit has a large contingent of forces from both sides. The Terran Sphere maintains a backbone of 4 squadrons of Redemption Frigates and an additional 2 quadrons of Retribution class frigates in the system. Lighter forces can vary more, but there are at least 3 squadrons of Defiances assigned to protect the Port Station with a mix of older cruiser hulls moving in and out of the system while moving through their patrol routes and other missions. As the resupply mission grows, squadrons of LASCOs, ferrying in Dragons and Bridgehead squadrons will be increasingly common sights around Port Lernoult. Player characters operating in the system should be able to have some impact on the forces present for the resupply mission through their actions, but at a minimum, The Terran Sphere can be expected to commit 5 squadrons of Dragons and Bridgeheads.
Admiral Zehun, the commander in charge of the Terran Sphere forces, spent many of the decades prior to the war as an instructor at the Ceres Military Institute. Many of the officers serving with the Admiral now have gone through their tactics classes, and the Admiral still commands the same instructor’s respect. While the admiral is considered to be one of the more brilliant tacticians the Terran Sphere has produced, even they will concede their brilliance is more technical than inspirational. It is rumored they have some history with Commandant Tanaka and fought for this assignment.
Meanwhile, on the Shohan side the occupation forces field 5 dreadnaughts, supported by 9 destroyer squadrons. This represents the base level, with the odd dreadnaught or destroyer squadron cycling in or out as the Shohan make their own force adjustments to the demands of the war. If using the Drone Destroyer from the Companion, the new destroyer class is slowly being cycled in to the occupation forces with the drones these vessels carry being used in a close air support role for surface ops. The increasing numbers of these ships could potentially force Admiral Zehun’s hand on the resupply mission as the drone screen provided by these vessels is a threat to their Dragons and Bridgeheads.
The Shohan forces are commanded by Star Overseer Deryn. The Overseer is hot tempered by Shohan standards, but quick to react and will move quickly and decisively against perceived threats.
Admiral Zehun - By The Numbers
Action Points: 6
Commandant Tanaka - By The Numbers
Action Points: 7
Overseer Deryn - By The Numbers
Action Points: 5
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Dragon Class Escorts
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Bridgehead Class Dropships
Skill List: Piloting 20, Gunnery 20, Tactics 20, Computers 18
Equipment: Defiant Class Cruisers
Skill List: Piloting 19, Gunnery 21, Tactics 21, Computers 19
Equipment: Redemption Class Frigates
Skill List: Piloting 19, Gunnery 21, Tactics 21, Computers 19
Equipment: Redemption Class Frigates
Dreadnaught Squadron (1)
Skills: As per the Dreadnaught Skill list
Tags: As per the Dreadnaught Tag list
Equipment: Shohan Dreadnaught
Destroyer Squadron (4 Destroyer, 2 Destroyer-Drone)
Skills: As per the Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer Skill list
Tags: As per the Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer Tag list
Equipment: Shohan Destroyer or Drone Destroyer