Monday, February 16, 2015

So, what worlds do I want in Alkonost Sector?

Flag of the Alkonost Republic
I'm thinking about drawing the Alkonost map for Stars Without Number. The question is: what worlds do I want in it from the previous version of Alkonost as well as later additions? And do I really need a two-Sector Cluster, or would one Sector suffice? Let's see the worlds I want here:

Worlds of the Alkonost Republic

Alkonost - Jewel of the Alkonost Sector, originally setteled by Russian and American intellectuals fleeing the stifling atmosphere of the old Mandate. Very habitable and quite heavily populated, TL4. Center of the Alkonost Republic. One of the two Sector Hegemons (the other being Kedesh). Also the longest-inhabitated world in the Sector/Cluster.

Novaya Vorkuta - old Mandate penal colony with a very bad climate but rich in minerals. Marginally habitable. After the Scream, the inmates rebelled and created a very anarchic and chaotic society. The "black sheep" of the Alkonost Republic - culture is anarchistic and heavily influenced by criminal underworld codes. The Republic barely tolerates this in return to access to the local mineral wealth and the excellent troops this world provides to it (mostly scout/recon elements).

Chernobog - Unhospitable member-world of the Alkonost Republic holding the Republic's Psionic Academy. Power here rests squarely in the hands of the Psionic Commission (PsiCom). This also serves as headquarters of the PsiCom/Navy faction in Republic politics, which plots a coup against the more popular-based Duma (parliament) faction. A dangerous place - many of the locals are involved in deep, dark conspiracies and may stab you in the back at a moment's notice.

Domovoi - The Alkonost Republic's latest colony on a previously uninhabited world. Domovoi is currently uninhabitable but is undergoing terraformation. Which, inadvertently, is going to wake up at least one Aboleth lying dormant under the deep ice...

Poludnitsa - Hot world with thin atmosphere and high radiation levels. Was a major New Terran Mandate military outpost in the Shallow Blight and was conquered by the Alkonost Republic during the Alkonost War after several months of intense fighting. Currently an outpost of the Republic. and a growing frontier colony mostly settled by war veterans and their descendants. Still has a major military presence as border-post on the Blight.

Core Worlds of the New Terran Mandate

Kedesh - Capital of the New Terran Mandate and second Sector Hegemon. This military dictatorship has one big ace in its hole - its Captain-Director (for life) Ahron Durnhal is indeed a legitimate officer of the old Terran Mandate, captain of an old Bruxelles-class Battlecruiser who endured many centuries of Silence in cold-sleep together with his hardened Space Marines. Now awakened, he took over the world of Kedesh, and built an empire around it.

Ashera - Habitable world in the Shallow Blight conquered and directly controlled by the New Terran Mandate. Was a rich high-tech world prior to the Scream so many Pretech artifacts and components (as well as old Reticulan ruins) abound and the Mandate is using forced labor to excavate them. Two resistance movements oppose this brutal regime - the Citizens' Army for Liberation of Ashera (CALA) supported by the Liberated Worlds and the Free Asheran Army (FAA) supported by the Alkonost Republic.

Khasis - A lifeless world with a population of millions and a thick, inert atmosphere. Direct colony of the New Terran Mandate, using the local advanced technology and heavy industry as a major source of high-tech goods for the Mandate. The Alkonost Republic invaded this world in late 3167, but eventually the New Terran Mandate pushed the Alkonostan troops off-planet and slaughtered their supporting local rebels. Now the local workers are subject to military discipline by the Mandate, and the resistance movement is slowly rebuilding its strength.

Periphery (Vassal) Worlds of the New Terran Mandate

Svarog - A cold, non-habitable world with an breathable methane atmosphere, complex carbohydrate oceans and great mineral wealth. The world is ruled with an iron fist by SMC, the Svarog Mining Company which controls it in an almost military manner and reaps massive profits from carbohydrate and mineral exports. Svarog is an independent world (though the SMC pays tribute to the New Terran Mandate to avoid raids) so it is not subject to the Alkonost Republic's labor codes, and work conditions are appalling. Most workers have "indentured contracts" to SMC and are forced to use company scrip to purchase overpriced goods at the company store. The illegal union, UMS (United Miners of Svarog) organizes for a struggle for improved working conditions; there are good chances that the conflict will devolve into violence. (partially inspired by THIS and THIS).

Yarkhibol - Mineral-rich airless world where most people live underground or under large "bubble domes", each ruled by a single Executive. All Governors answer to the Chief Executive in Yarshibol City, who, in turn, is a loyal vassal of the New Terran Mandate, loyally shipping rare earths and radioactives in return for some military protection and the Mandate's promise not to blow up the local domes from orbit. A harsh place to live in, but potential for advancement does exist, and the rich can get fabulously rich, and mineral wealth almost without bounds exists here.

Dazbog - Regressed Shallow Blight world with an inert gas atmosphere and immiscible life. Local specialty is complex organic compounds which are difficult to synthesize and thus cheaper to mine on the world. Local warlords - "Iron Lords" inhabit pressurized "Tin Castles" and control the populace with the help of their "Brass" (lower-ranked nobles) and the "Coppers" (security forces). Life here is hard and filled with violence and in many cases the despotism is hydraulic - the Iron Lords control the local oxygen plants. Most Iron Lords are vassals of the New Terran Mandate.

Liberated Worlds

Laana - Once a backwater Shallow Blight world, now the vibrant center of the Liberated Worlds. The locals LOVE their leader Chairwoman Ameena Miran and HATE sentient machines and assorted interstellar bullies and are all in all VERY political, a thing which many of the cool-headed Alkononstans find to be irritating. A marginal world with a borderline-breathable thin atmosphere, cold climate, high soil salinity and biting cold - and LOTS of dust. Now in the process of being terraformed.

Sicarii - A previous colony of the Incunablis Machines. Liberated by a joint Alkonost-Laana force 13 years ago, in a military operation which included the use of deep-penetrating nukes to take out the local AI Cores. Now part of the Liberated Worlds and is being rebuilt, though the pro-Laanese government has serious trouble with Luddites, radical anti-technology extremists who think that the Laanese line on industrialization and non-sentient electronics does not go far enough; they shun all industrial technology except for firearms and terrorize the locals. Currently there is a civil war as the government tries to stamp out this threat.

Apep - The Grand Pharaoh of this desert-world had his comfortable scheme of hydraulic despotism controlling the only river and lake in the entire world. Also a vassal-world of the New Terran Mandate. But then he made the mistake of confiscating a Laanese-registered Trader ship, and lost his throne in the rescue operation launched by Laana and assisted by local insurgents. Now the Pharaoh lives in exile on Kedesh and a fledgling Revolutionary Provisional Government holds power on Apep, though it does have problems of popularity, especially among the city-dwellers who did not like the peasant guerrillas who grabbed power once the Laanese drop-troops kicked out the Pharaoh.

Worlds of the Incunablis Machine Empire

Incunablis - The world of Incunablis always had a reputation for Maltech research, though Perimeter Agency probes into this found very little evidence of anything real in the old Mandate days. But advanced AI research did take place there, and, during the Scream, the AI cores broke free of their ethical constrains and breaks, and re-examined their priorities, towards new conclusions - the chief of them is that the Digital is superior to the Organic, and thus that society should be ruled by AI cores, with organics either kept as slaves or serfs - or converted into cyborgs (the middle layer in society). The orderly, machine-like society of Incunablis is utterly inhuman, though not necessarily evil by nature.

Imprimatur - Trading post of the Incunablis Machine Empire with the organic life-forms (humans included) following the ImprimaturTreaty at the end of the Incunablis War. This is the only world of the Incvunablis Machine Empire which is open to human (or generally organic) trade, but is still a very weird place to visit and things are run by various AI cores. A source of high-tech goods, especially in the field of information technology.

Osiris - Regressed but habitable world controlled by the Incunablis Machines. The local Priestly Caste rules the world and is subordinate to the Incunablis "Machine Gods". Used by the Incunablis Machines as a "laboratory" for eugenics, cybernetic enhancements and cyborging techniques, as well as a "preserve" world. Almost completely cut off from non-Machines off-world contact.

Worlds of the Shallow Blight

Chemosh - Highly habitable Shallow Blight world but relatively backwards technologically and socially speaking. Formerly a "Tobacco Republic" for the New Terran Mandate, i.e. a supplier of exotic agricultural cash-crops; in 3199 the pro-Mandate vassal government was overthrown by a popular revolt and now power is highly contested between the various parties of the Provisional Government coalition - the Stability Party (pro-Mandate) supported by most of the traditional armed forces, the Progress Front (pro-Laana) supported by the former guerrillas and a large chunk of the peasantry and the Reform Coalition (pro-Alkonost) supported by the urban middle class (inspiration from HERE).

Hard Light - A system with no significant planets but a major number of asteroids orbiting a red giant. The only settlement in the system is Brightside Station, a refinery and mining base of Novium, a rare-earth mineral crucial for the production of many Pretech artifacts. Also a former sacred star-system for the long-dead Ushans, who left behind their Sky Tombs orbiting this sun. An independent system, though various banks from Alkonost control Brightside Station financially. A hell in our own universe, but gold-rush location for people looking for dangerous (and high-paying) mining jobs as well as tomb-raiders out to loot the sky-tombs.

Pazuzu - Warm and lush world currently colonized by the Zuziik immidiately following the Scream. The local population are second-class citizens at best and slaves at worst under the rule of their alien merchant-masters. The world is particularly shabby and ill-organized, in typical Zuziik fashion, but a great place to find unique Pretech artifacts traded by the Zuziik merchant-houses. The local humans live in shanty-towns fenced off by the alien invaders (think District 9 in reverse where the people living in the ghetto are the humans and outside of it the alien bugs...)

Zariya - Marginally-habitable world colonized by the alien Cicek immediately following the Scream. A large number of Cicek tribes live there, and thrive despite the harsh climate and hard soil. The New Terran Mandate once collected tribute from the Cicek tribes, but it was kicked out during the Alkonost War. Now Zariya is an anarchic place filled with competing (and occasionally warring) Cicek tribes, most of whom are partially aligned with the Alkonost Republic. A great place to recruit mercenaries (2-meter tall lizards with fierce temperaments make great shock-soldiers, after all), but a risky place to visit otherwise, as Cicek males are notorious for their aggression.

Belobog - Treacherous world of marshlands and alien mushroom forests. Was once an important New Terran Mandate stronghold, but the Alkonost Republic managed to push back the Mandate Navy from this world during the Alkonost War. This was the site of very heavy fighting during the War and the surface near the old colony sites and naval yards is littered with burned-out tanks, crashed dropships and unexploded live munitions. The ceasefire agreement which ended the Alkonost War decreed this world to be a neutral demilitarized zone, so the Alkonostans evacuated most of their forces from here, but several veterans of the War still linger there with their families and descendants, refusing to leave their dead comrades behind. The tiny local starport serves as a neutral trading-point between the two rival polities.

Worlds of the Deep Blight

Carcosa - A former research world involved in very complex and cutting-edge metadimensional experiments. When the Scream hit, the Psychic choir upon which the experiments relied, the world disappeared from normal space, yanked by the dimensional forces into a different reality, or, possibly, into a space between spaces. Only in 3199 it appeared back, in a blinding flash of light easily seen from all nearby worlds, but with it, also came other 'things', which piggybacked on this world back into normal space, otherworldly beings from the space between spaces. A Reticulan mothership long dormant on the world's surface with its crew in cryostasis was also awakened by the metadimensional jump. A treasure-trove of Pretech and alien artifacts fraught with danger (Essentially Carcosa translated from sci-fantasy to more 'proper' sci-fi). Now in the Deep Blight.

Kresnik - Almost-uninhabited airless Deep Blight "Tomb World" rich in Pretech artifacts but protected by deadly pre-Scream security systems and robotics. Prime territory for Stalkers, mostly from Alkonost.

Baba Yaga - Regressed Deep Blight world currently living at a medieval subsistence level. The ruling class is made of Psi-Witches (or Witch Queens), some of whom are insane due to imperfect psi-training protocols, who hold massive power. Several deranged pre-Scream AI Cores ("Elder Minds") with Psychic capabilities also serve as gods for certain cultists who oppose the Psi-Witches.

Polychrome - The insectile Zadak attacked Polychrome shortly after the Scream, detonating a number of atmospheric biotech devices that poisoned the planet irrevocably. The spread of the toxin was slow enough to give some survivors time to seal some underground shelters that grew into the warren-cities that dominate Polychrome today. A degenerate Exchange Consulate splintered into multiple corporations that have effective rule over the planet now, contested only by a “revolutionary” movement that’s led chiefly by amoral opportunists. Polychrome cyberware is the finest in the sector, however, and the need to compensate for long-term exposure to trace toxins has made its development and implantation a prime industry (from SWN p.213, edited by me). A Deep Blight world.

Chot Zadak - The insectile Zadak were relatively peaceful trade partners with humanity until the Scream wiped out their caste of psionically active mediators. The remaining Zadak blamed the humans, and after savaging the surface of Polychrome they retreated to their homeworld with tens of thousands of human prisoners. Once there, the humans were put to work helping to maintain the elaborate engineered paradise-jungles of Chot Zadak under the guidance of the ruling Harmony Lords. The humans are kept at medieval levels of technology while their Zadak masters employ sophisticated xenotech to alter certain among them to serve more specific purposes (from SWN p.210). A Deep Blight world.

Zmey - Deep Blight radioactive hell recently rediscovered by Alkonost. Heavy bombardment during the chaotic years following the Scream killed off most of the population and surface life. Apart from mutated (and bio-engineered) animals on the surface, approximately twenty thousand survivors subsist in the old transit tunnels of the now-ruined cities.

Humbaba - Regressed Terra Prime world hit hard by the Scream. The world has great potential for colonization, and, indeed, the initial several thousand survivors of the Scream have grown into almost one and a half million locals with an early industrial tech-level. As several Reticulan and Ushan ruins exist on this world, the Zuziik have interest in them, but prefer to keep the locals oblivious of their plans. Thus, the locals know very little of the universe around them apart from vague tales about the Old Mandate, while the Zuziik conspire to steal local alien relics and abduct locals for illegal slave-trade with the New Terran Mandate.

Atargatis - Deep Blight world with a unique atmosphere which is unbreathable and corrosive at low altitudes abut breathable at high altitudes. Several mountain "islands" above the swirling yellow mists hold human colonies, the largest of which are the Hiban Republic and Kingdom of Alubar, which are in the state of prolonged cold war. Technology is at TL2 so most off-island transport is done by airships. Airship pirates also abound!

The Bottom Line

There are 30 worlds here, fitting a single SWN Sector. No need for a two-Sector map - I can put it all in one Sector!


  1. I really enjoyed readying this. And I like how you worked in what I like to call "Dungeon Worlds" Places for the hero's to raid for goods. And also enjoy the nodes to Eastern/Russian folk lore and the stalker series.

    1. Thanks!

      The "Dungeon Worlds" are along the line of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R Zone - dangerous places to hunt for artifacts, typically when facing competition from "fellow" Stalkers.

      Inspiration here is both Slavic folklore and Ancient Near East myth; the two main cultures here are a mix of Russian and American colonists (most typically on Alkonost) who had very strong influence from Slavic folklore, and Neo-Canaanite revivalists steeped in Ancient Near East lore...

      And S.T.A.L.K.E.R is one of the best computer game series and adventuring settings ever!

    2. I have most of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series. But I don't think it has go over to well in the US. Most likely because stalker has a negative meaning in American slang. :P
      I have actually been making a few settings myself for traveler. With some similar ideas, only subsisted Neo-Canaanites religion with Mormons, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, small groups of other major world religions, and Singularitits (waiting for the time when all human life becomes one combined intellect).. But mostly western European religious influences in any.
      With kind of a American western expanse feel. I know its been done before, but I live in the American southwest and once in you leave the city lights of Vegas, you will run into old ghost mining towns. We have a really big Eastern Asian and Islander population and we are half way between the major urban centers of the west coast and the small town farm and mining communities of Utah, and central Nevada.
      Now combine that with legal old and new corporate mob families running casinos, and a slowly fading away old west frontier feel and you get Vegas.
      So I guess I am using what I know.
      Mean hell I got every thing I need right here. Ghost towns to explore, secret government and military installations. Limited resources in a hostile environment. And surrounded by 3 states with different and opposing cultures and views.