Worlds at War

Worlds at War

Exploring the territory between Das Boot and Schismatrix: The world of Worlds at War

My goal in creating this science fiction setting is to create an interesting and varied platform to stage a game set during a civil war, with the emphasis on the captains of stealth patrol ships, something like sub combat in space. The American Civil War pitted a nation with high technical skill, excellent educational system, good economy, and massive population against a poor, sparsely populated agrarian society. In this setting I am seeking sides which will be more at parity, and therefore, hopefully, more interesting. For more information and a discussion of the Risus rules we will be using, as well as sample characters and illustrations of our stealth patrol ships, please visit my website at

On one side we have the inner planets firmly under the soft but oh-so-firm grip of the Sino-Euro Hegemony, with obvious expansionist policies (Earth just finished re-conquering Mars 8 years ago) and are making inroads into the Belt States. On their side are a massive population and the political and military will to fight.

The other side is the League of Worlds, mostly consisting of the colonies and habitats of the outer planets. They have significantly less homogeny than even Earth and Mars, because in many cases the only people willing to colonize such extreme places had very strange or deviant philosophies. Besides this, there have since emerged in the outer planets two unforeseen factions (perhaps more rightly seen as philosophies) whose adherents and sympathizers often cross normal societal boundaries, thus fragmenting these societies further. (With a nod to Bruce Sterling.) These are the Shapers, who look to drastic genetic manipulation to further human longevity, adaptability, creativity, and intelligence, and Mechanists, who look to bionics, and computerization to augment or replace human abilities. Unlike in Schismatrix, the mechanists and shapers are more like political parties or philosophies, than sides in a war.

The outer worlds also have much less population and territory, and less will to fight, although most can be mobilized to protect their threatened independence. In their favor they have indispensable experience living and working in space (this in an amazing percentage of the population in their societies), better technology (thanks to the Mechanists), and better strategy and tactics (thanks to the Shapers).

Eight Major Assumptions

  1. I have assumed a mostly hard science fiction approach. Maybe I should say a hard-ish science fiction approach. I have not allowed for artificial gravity. Most large habitats will have been designed with rotation in mind. I have assumed efficient drugs, wide-spread gene therapy, or peer pressure allow for long to constant periods in micro- or zero-gravity environments, as many moonlets and asteroids, not to mention small ships and stations, (oops, I mentioned them!) could not be spun for gravity simulation. This won’t include large passenger liners or some cargo ships, but will include snug, floaty-on-the-inside stealth boats!

  2. I have assumed that Earth-built (or at least Hegemony-built) ships take a few months for interplanetary journeys. ”This sounds like a long time, but it is roughly equivalent to ocean travel in the Age of Sail, an era where explorers, traders, colonists, and pirates all flourished!” (Ah GURPS Space, we love you!) League-built ships are faster, but have much wider distances to travel. League ships capable of silent running will have much less thrust than even Earth ships while running silent, and will therefore have slower speeds, unless they “surface” by turning on their main drives.

  3. I have assumed the PCs will be, if not from the League of Worlds, at least fighting on their side.

  4. Perhaps moving further away from hard science, I have assumed that terraforming is possible, but not quick. I’m trying to strike a balance between things like Farmer in the Sky by Heinlein, and The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson on the one side (Where terraforming happened over the course of a century or two on worlds like Mars and Ganymede… ) and Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling (Where humanity spread out to the solar system, but was pretty much forced to live in orbit everywhere they ended up). One of the main ways this has begun is directly from the Mars trilogy: a giant orbital tube, or more accurately, a cone, of mirrors which sits in the L1 point in the system (between the planet and the sun) and either amplifies received light, or acts as a shade. The louvers are repositionable. Robinson calls this a Rosetta.

  5. I have assumed that the League of Worlds has become independent of Earth as regards things like, but not limited to: air, water, ferrous metals, fresh strawberries, German lager, and swimsuit fashions.

  6. Likewise, I have assumed that mining things like asteroids, gas giant atmosphere, various & sundry moons, and Kuiper belt objects is actually useful and productive.

  7. Have assumed that as people explore the solar system many new moons will be discovered in the Jupiter and Saturn systems, as well as more new planets in the Kuiper belt.

  8. I have assumed that with the currently available technology, it is much, much safer to live on a cold world than a hot one.

Current Geo-Political Status Of The Sol System: A.D. 2221

Mercury – Under tight control of the hegemony. Major mining operations underground and at polar settlements. Orbital solar study stations and solar power projects running or in research phase. Also home of the Icarus trans-solar military station.

Venus – One of the least hospitable locations in the system. A few orbital stations and habitats; besides a few S-EH outposts they are mostly an ungovernable group of eccentrics, artists, religious nuts, and hermits. A few surface stations for scientific study. Also home to the first stages of construction on a Rosetta project which will partially block sunlight to the surface as the beginning of a long term terraforming project.

Earth – Home of the newly unified Sino-Euro Hegemony. As the S-EH becomes stronger, it is seeking control of the elements which broke away from their former commitments during the realignment of power [timeline available at the website]. Mostly unified, but large population prevents homogeny. Population stable as a result of the ruthlessly enforced ½ Child Policy. Orbital real estate also massively developed.

The Moon – 65% S-EH territory. Former penal colony. Widely developed, large population. Mining, research and military assets. 35% Neutral territory: Farside or Hong Kong Luna. HK Luna is mostly large corporate interests and wildcat independent operators, not to mention vast mafia holdings. Ostensibly stays out of politics and war which has kept them independent and neutral till the present day, relations with the S-EH are unstable. HK Luna is also the undisputed leader in off-earth tourism.

Mars – Subjugated S-EH member state. Under martial law. Gained independence from the joint North American and Japanese Governing Board 45 years ago, after a protracted and vicious struggle. After another protracted and ugly war, it was recently brought under Sino-Euro control. The Martian underground is a significant powerbase for the League in terms of money, strategy, and manpower. Quickly growing population as Earth knows it cannot enforce its ½ Child Policy on Mars without losing total control of the population. Large population of nomadic Arabs. Vast mining and scientific opportunities and holdings. Also a leader in weapons development. In the early-mid stages of seemingly-successful terraforming. Significant orbital development includes a large Rosetta which focuses extra sunlight onto the surface. A few years ago the Hegemony declared a “Cessation of Hostilities” on Mars, but unrest and sabotage have been constant here ever since.

Phobos Inner moon. Hosts the Martian Meteorology Station. Various other small uses.

Deimos Outer moon. Space station and waypoint.

Asteroids – Large region of mixed corporate, independent, and wildcat mining. Very little S-EH presence, although they are increasing influence. Also home to various smugglers, pirates, eccentrics, utopian religious communities, art colonies, agro domes, scientific outposts, and racing enthusiasts. Also in the belt are 16 evenly placed League of Worlds listening posts, which roughly delineate the current border between the S-EH and the League. The largest asteroids:

Ceres – Largest, most developed, and most influential belt community. Governed by The Union of Independent Mining Contractors. Technically neutral, tends to support the League as much as possible.

Pallas – Corporate State controlled by the Inuit Mining Consortium

Vesta – Ungovernable anarchy. Port for smugglers, pirates, and fences. Have their own laws and customs. Very sympathetic to the cause of the League, when it suits them.

Hygiea – Former mining facility recently purchased and is being converted to a military platform by the S-EH.

Eros – Mining and agro colony which is a front for milchcows supplying rebel ships.

Jupiter – An important location for the League, as the many moons and habitats are united in their effort to defend independence from the Hegemony. Jupiter himself is sparsely populated. The upper atmosphere (far above the liquid metallic hydrogen!) hosts some hydrogen and helium mining colonies as well as some research stations and sundry eccentrics. There are two massive habitats at Jupiter’s Lagrange points 4 and 5 and a large one at L3 (opposite the sun from Jupiter in the same orbit). All ships traveling to the Jupiter system and rated for travel in the area between Jupiter’s orbit and Saturn’s must be hardened to Jupiter’s massive magnetosphere.

Inner moons: Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea and Thebe – Small various communities. Amalthea, the largest of these, hosts the rebellion’s Beneficial Bacterium Export and Propagation Facility .

Io – Lack of water and very active volcanoes mean there is no permanent surface communities. Some orbital habitats. Of note is the Moroccan station New Marrakech, which specializes in zero-G coffee and tea production.

Europa – Largely settled by a wide variety of deep sea settlements in the salt water beneath the ice. These act as a loose federation, although each one has a different internal government. Some important scientific facilities as well as the prestigious Jovian University.

Ganymede – Largest satellite in the system, even larger than Mercury! Widely populated, Ganymede was the first colony beyond Mars. Government is a combination meritocracy and representative democracy. Uses an experimental economic system. Along with the Martian government in exile, a motive force for the League. Also, undergoing heavy terraforming efforts to raise temperature and augment its natural oxygen atmosphere. The first world to pioneer use of a Rosetta to increase sunlight. Also the main source for livestock (in vitro, live, or as meat) and real leather and wool goods to the outer worlds. Manufacturing and agriculture in large amounts here.

Callisto – Home of the Ursa naval construction yards and extensive naval bases and military research stations. Basically a client state to Ganymede. Also home to many Martian refugee camps.

Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, Ananke, Carme, Pasiphae and Sinope – Various uses. Some of these are the smallest moons in the whole solar system. Of note is the jointly run Perrine prison on Himalia, which is used by all governments in the Jovian system (and some from the asteroid belt and outer planet’s governments), except for Elara, which is a sanctuary moon and Terpsichore, which is run by a Finnish criminal cartel.

Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, Urania, Echo – Small communities of various types and uses. Of note is the Nanotech Materials Construction Yards run by the Mechanist Hypercollective of Polyhymnia.

Saturn – Like Jupiter, Saturn boasts some hydrogen and helium mining colonies in the upper atmosphere as well as some research stations and sundry eccentrics. There are two nice sized habitats at Saturn’s Lagrange points 4 and 5 and a large one at L3 (opposite the sun from Saturn in the same orbit).

Pan, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Thimas – Limited use: A Ring Static Advisory is in effect for travel here.

Mimas – Peruvian matriarchy which specializes in software cryptography export and computer security.

Epimetheus & Janus – These co-orbital moons are run by a joint society of Shaper pioneers and experimentalists with a strict “caste” structure based on genetic history.

Enceladus – Athenian Democracy which specializes in power plants and ship reactors.

Tethys, Telesto and Calypso – Tethys: Extensive network of large-output, low man-power farms with various new methods under development. Telesto and Calypso are stuck in Tethys’ Lagrange points and serve as the wholesale distribution nodes for the products of the farming collectives.

Dione, Helene and Polydeuces – Dione is a mechanist crypto-anarchy which specializes in the production and export of heavy machinery and habitat design. Helene and Polydeuces are stuck in Dione’s Lagrange points and serve as ship repair facilities run by the Dionians.

Rhea – Utopian multi-ethnic anti-materialist anarchy with strict regulations on emigration and immigration. They support their culture with the export of ephemera: music, art, fashion, recipes, hair styles, movies, games, poetry, improv, dance, comedy, stickers, T-shirt designs (not the actual shirts!), answering system messages, voice acting, library software, experimental philosophies, educational programs for children, and benign computer viruses. Arguably the best source for these things outside of Earth itself, although their strange society does lend an odd bent to some of the works. Because of wide popularity, this world is far more influential system-wide than population numbers can account for.

Titan – Largest population in the Saturnine system. Originally settled by 6 different groups, these have maintained their roots, but have come together to form a coalition government despite very different philosophies. Their unity and leadership of the many disparate societies in and around Saturn have become an inspiration to many. Military and banking leaders of the local system as well.

Hyperion – Client state of the Titan Coalition

Iapetus – Run by an oligarchy of merchant families, a major exporter of refined drinking water.

Phoebe – Small colony of Trinidadian Rastafarians who make a living by issuing Letters of Marque by the authority of Titan to privateers eager to hunt S-EH ships.

Romeo, Lear, Horatio, Hamlet, Fortinbras, Falstaff, Othello, Cymbeline, Vincento, Valentine – Small communities of various types and uses. Of note are the infamous Falstaff Black Market and Vincento’s John P. Churchill Zero-G Smoked Meat and Cheeses House.

Uranus – Half way to Pluto! Like Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus boasts some hydrogen and helium mining colonies in the upper atmosphere as well as some research stations and sundry eccentrics. There are two medium sized habitats at Uranus’ Lagrange points 4 and 5, and a large one at L3 (opposite the sun from Uranus in the same orbit). Of note is the Viola station at Lagrange 4 which is a major League supporter and the location of the preeminent military academy outside the inner planets, the William Herschel Military Academy.

Cordelia, Ophelia, Bianca, Cressida, Desdemona, Juliet, Portia, Rosalind, Belinda and Puck – Small communities of various types and uses. Of note is the Puck Espionage Methods Research Facility run for the Viola government by the Rwandan and Eritrean colonists.

Miranda – Mercenary bases and local mechanist enclaves.

Ariel – Laotian and Vietnamese settlers predominantly involved in agriculture, low-g arbor sciences, and propagating natural ingredients for medicine.

Umbriel – Client of the Viola government. Main naval base in the Uranus system, and the Marine Training Center of the William Herschel Military Academy .

Titania & Oberon – Diffuse groups of separate states and clans. For the most part co-existing peacefully. Oberon is the location of the Orion Shipyards. Titania is the location of the Punjabi Agricultural Insect Breeding and Export House.

Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano, Hero, and Trinculo – Small communities of various types and uses. Of note is the massive transmitter on Hero which broadcasts the popular Voice Of the Independents radio programs into the inner solar system.

Neptune – Some orbital development. Neptune has declared itself neutral as regards the League-Hegemony civil war (with the notable exception of Proteus), but because of its position, it does most of its trading and trafficking with League aligned worlds.

Ganymede has ruled on harsh measures for any League aligned ships which prey upon Neptunian ships, these penalties have been signed into law in most League worlds, but haven’t totally prevented incidents.

Naiad, Thalassa, Despina and Galatea – Small communities of various types and uses.

Larissa – Current status unknown, approaching ships are shot at, no communication possible.

Proteus – The earliest Shaper community, strongly supports the League with extremely experimental tactics, technology, and diplomacy.

Triton – Tremendous seasonal changes make Triton less desirable as a location for permanent settlements, although some exist. Triton’s relatively rare high rock content for the outer solar system make it highly valued for mining. The majority of mining corporations here are actually extended clans and tribes, of mixed descent from the original corporate settlers.

Nereid – Agricultural community of Polynesians.

Gremio, Hortensio, Tranio, Biondello – Small communities of various types and uses.

Pluto – Home to a mining community for now (winter), during perihelion when the atmosphere sublimates, work will stop for quite a few decades. The largest communities are in orbit. These do not have an independent government, but are run jointly by the governments of Ganymede and Dione.

Charon – Stellar observatory in orbit here, run by a restrictive and insular theocracy.

Persephone and Cerberus – These societies are run by the mining community and orbital habitats.

Tartarus – Feudal society of oxygenating moss specialists.

Hel – This distant Kuiper belt planet (the “tenth planet”) is rich in rare metals and minerals and despite its extreme distance has undergone significant mining development by a joint venture funded by the Dione and Viola communities.

Fenrir – A peaceful and hardworking constitutional monarchy descended mostly from Irish, Turkish and Haitian colonists. Manufacturing and agricultural hub for the Hel system.

Jorumgand – Run by the joint venture as a way station, supply base, and first class ship-servicing facilities.

Other Kuiper Belt Planets: Yggdrasil, Urd, Skuld, Verdandi – Small communities of various types and uses, all firmly aligned with the League.