“There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.”
Carl von Clausewitz, On War
Since the Battle of Zanzibar, the Terran Sphere and the Shohan have mired in a war of feint and maneuver. Now that time is coming to an end. Learning from their victories and defeats, both sides commit fully to the fray. It is the dawn of grand strategies across the theater of war, time for spies and soldiers to risk it all in the name of victory. It is time for Decisive Action!
Decisive Action is a resource for players and GMs, adding new plot hooks, adventure seeds, and equipment to a tumultuous galaxy. Alternate paths are also presented to ease integration into existing campaigns.
Decisive Action contains
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.