Agudegh, Macumeran System
This was originally the featured article in the January/February 2016 issue.
Macumeran System (Twilight 809)
A Vargr lost colony that built itself back up after its own personal Long Night, Agudegh is now the terminus of a Jump-2 trade route and a major trade partner in the area. It is the only primary Vargr world in the subsector, isolated from all others; any other Vargr worlds in the subsector are Macumeranese secondary colonies.
The system (“Makumoezhong” in the local Vargr tongue) consists of Macumeran (“Makumvonutoe”), an F7V main-sequence star with eight planets and two asteroid belts, grouped into three distinct zones.
Macumeran Inner System
The inner system contains three planets, none of which are habitable or settled.
Planets I and II (both XS00000-0), Kzargann (Orbit 0) and Zakergann (Orbit 1), are both tiny Mercuriforms in “torch orbits”, too close to the sun to be of use. Kzargann’s bright face is literally red-hot.
Planet III, Urghann (X8B0000-0, Orbit 2) is a Cytherean world with a dense, corrosive atmosphere, a surface temperature of over 800° and two moons (rare for an inner-zone world). Both moons are in decaying orbits; the larger inner moon just outside the Roche limit (D100213-8) has a solar observatory with a small population of around 100.
Macumeran Middle System
The inhabited portion of the system is a settler/belter’s dream, with a small gas giant and a T-norm mainworld in the “Goldilocks Orbit” between two asteroid belts.
The Inner Belt (D000363-8, Orbit 3) is a chondrite-asteroid belt worked by about 5000 belters.
Planet IV, Knaergann (SGG, 30 ME, Orbit 4), is a small gas giant of about 30 ME (almost the ideal size for fuel skimming) with blue-and-white water-cloud banding, no rings, and two moons.
Knaergann’s inner moon, Agudegh (C566753-9) is the system main world, a T-norm satellite world with a population of some 70 million Vargr. From orbit or approach, it appears as a T-norm world with blue oceans and orange-and-green landmasses under a swirl of white clouds.
Knaergann’s outer moon Zhodegh (D330411-8), well-placed as a highport and transfer point, is a tawny-colored twin of Mars with a population of some 50,000 in domes and dug-ins.
The Outer Belt (E000304-8, Orbit 5) is a belt of nickel-iron asteroids with some belter activity, enough to support a permanent population of 9000 belters “organized” into small independent packs and packless wanderers.
Macumeran Outer System
The outer system contains two ringed gas giants (one large and one small) plus a large iceball. None are permanently settled. The system’s population is too small to support outer-system development, though “unlicensed privateers” (corsair bands) might have covert boltholes.
Planet V, Ounarghann (LGG, 450 ME [1½ MJ] Orbit 6), is the large gas giant of the system, a “Jupiter and a half” with a thin close-in ring, three major moons, and dozens of minor captured-asteroid moons. Ounarghann has too high a surface gravity and too violent an atmosphere to be suitable for fuel skimming. Massive upwellings of white and pastels break and swirl among the brownish and yellow cloud bands, giving the planet the “Jupiter with acne” look of an outer zone superjovian. The two largest moons orbit fairly close-in; the third-largest is in an eccentric far orbit with the “temps”.
The innermost and largest moon (X622000-0) is “fire and ice”, a larger Io with violently-erupting lava volcanoes, thin sulfurous atmosphere, and oceans kept liquid by geothermal heat.
The second-largest middle moon (X320000-0) is a volcanically-active Mars.
The outermost moon in a far orbit (X100000-0) is a nondescript iceball.
Though not counted in permanent moons, at least two dozen captured asteroids form temporary moons in every orbit imaginable.
Planet VI, Phargann (SGG, 50 ME, Orbit 7), is pastel yellow with white cloud bands, an elaborate double-ring system, and six moons, a smaller sister of Saturn. The six moons cluster in two orbital groupings:
In close orbits: two nondescript small rockballs and a Mars-sized Io with a trace atmosphere of sulfur vapor.
In far orbits, three small nondescript iceballs. If the system has any covert corsair bases, they’ll be among these moons.
Planet VII, Thorzarg Tsan, (X860000-0, Orbit 8) is an Earth-sized Titaniform iceball on the edge of the system with a medium-dense atmosphere of inert cryogenic gases and enough greenhouse effect to have liquid hydrocarbons on-surface. Normally, a cryoworld like this would be exploited for its hydrocarbons, but it’s too far out to be practical at TL9 and there’s been no out-of-system interest.
Beyond Thorzarg Tsan, there are only the ice asteroids of a Kuiper Belt.
Agudegh C566753-9 Rich, Ag
(Macumeran IV-A, the larger/inner moon of Knaergann)
Eaglestone Trade Index 3
Agudegh (“Jewel World” in old Arrghoun) is a T-norm satellite world, caught in the tidal-stress tug-of-war between Knaergann and Zhodegh (“Wandering World”), seismically and volcanically-active.
Agudegh has a typical satellite-world geography – a “ring ocean” with all landmasses centered in two major groups directly under the primary and at the antipodes.
The Knaergannside hemisphere has four landmasses separated by narrow straits which function as a single continent ringed with smaller volcanic islands and archipelagoes. Coastal plains and river deltas ring the quadruple continent below a “Mogollon Rim” of canyon-penetrated cliffs transitioning to the interior highlands—“basalt badlands” spotted with usually-active volcanoes and the great calderas of supervolcanoes like Yellowstone, Tambora, Toba, or Long Valley. Settled areas mostly hug the coast or follow river canyons through the Rim into the interior.
The Antipodes (the Farside hemisphere) has no single continent, just a cluster of volcanic islands built around shield volcanoes. The larger islands (fused together into mini-continents) have some of the “Mogollon Rim” geography of Knaergannside Continent, but the distinction between inland highlands and coastal lowlands is normally less.
Generally Antipodes volcanoes are less active and less explosive than those on Knaergannside; a super-volcanic eruption could nuclear-winter the entire planet, and is believed to be the reason the original colony crashed. The less-violent Antipodes eruptions have more risk of triggering tsunamis.
Surface Conditions/Sky Picture
The day is 57 hours long (2.4 T-days), with a year of about 268 local days (1.76 T-years) and a Zhodegh month of about three local days (7.14 T-days). Climate is fairly constant year-round, with long scorching days and cold nights throughout the year. Seasonal variations are found only in the northernmost and southernmost lands. Most inhabitants sleep through the hottest part of the day and coldest part of the night, with two sleep/wake cycles per day.
The main difference a visitor will notice is the gravity – only 5/8 of a gee. Sea-level atmosphere density and pressure are otherwise normal, but the lower gravity causes less pressure drop from altitude. The atmosphere is breathable up to 10km altitude, though daytime UV radiation from the sun becomes unsafe above 6km.
Both hemispheres have spectacular sky views:
- On the Antipodes, the night sky is filled with spectacular aurorae, the result of dueling magnetospheres and heavy solar wind. The tawny outer moon of Zhodegh grows and shrinks in the sky, with a maximum diameter (at opposition) of 1½ times that of Earth’s moon.
- On Knaergannside, the sky is dominated by the primary, a
white-streaked-with-sapphire globe forty times the apparent diameter
of the Earth’s moon and over 2000 times as bright, waxing and waning
as Agudegh orbits around it.
- Due to the axial/orbital tilt, for about half the year centered around Spring and Autumn Equinoxes Knaergann eclipses the sun each day with even more spectacle — for up to three hours (maximum at the equinoxes themselves), the primary becomes a red ring in the sky, mega-bolt lightning storms flickering over the night side.
- Every night, the sky brightens as Knaergann phases to full, until at midnight the sky is only a bit darker blue than at noon. Zhodegh is visibly smaller than on Farside, shrinking almost to a rust-colored speck as it passes behind the primary.
- In both hemispheres, the sun is visibly smaller, a brilliant ice-white welding-arc in the daytime sky. The deep atmosphere generates clouds that are tall and towering, often sorting into several layers of stratus, altostratus, and cirrus pierced by towering mega-cumulus like those of a volcanic or nuclear explosion. Only in the high “basalt badlands” of the interior will there be days without a cloud in the sky.
“Macumeranese Vargr” are visibly different from the standard Vargr, forming a distinct local ethnic type. A standard Vargr among the Macumeranese will stand out like a timber wolf among coyotes, larger and more robust.
The lower gravity and heavier solar radiation have left them lighter and more gracile, resembling coyotes or jackals more than wolves. When generating characters, roll 2D-2 Strength, 2D+1 Dexterity, 2D-2 Endurance.
The higher radiation load has also shortened their lifespan compared to standard Vargr; aging rolls start at 30 (three terms) instead of 34 (four terms), and continue as standard Vargr of one term older.
Agudegh is home to two interpenetrating biospheres: Native sea life and land vegetation, and transplanted land life and vegetation common to Vargr “terraforming” projects. Land life is somewhat limited in variety – native life is only a handful of species which have adapted to land, and transplanted Vargr life from colonization was a limited-diversity biosphere based on Earth’s. The two biochemistries are compatible but mutually toxic to varying degrees.
Unlike most life-bearing worlds, Agudegh’s native life evolved well beyond the usual bacteria, to a Life Index of 7 – complex multicellular plants and animals, primarily sea-borne, roughly similar to Earth when life was first coming onto land.
Native multicellular animal life is primarily various types of pseudo-arthropods, worms, pseudo-mollusks, and other invertebrates similar to the Cambrian-era zoology of the Burgess Shale. Native land life is primarily vegetation and pseudo-arthropods, from centipedes to arachnoids to insectoids. Native vegetation uses carotenoid compounds and pigments instead of the chlorophyll of Terran plants, and is colored various shades of the interior of a carrot.
Transplanted life is familiar to anyone of human or Vargr stock, similar to Terran species of the late Pleistocene without most of the megafauna. Plants are similar and green instead of native plants’ carrot-orange, and most of the animals are livestock breeds.
The dual ecosystem has shaken down during the Long Night, but still has some problems with invasive species, including several species of pseudo-centipede which have adapted to transplanted plants and have made themselves agricultural pests.
Cautions and Hazards
The sun is F7, with intense ultraviolet emissions translating to severe sunburn danger at higher altitudes. This is offset by the lower gravity; the atmosphere doesn’t thin as much with altitude. At sea level, the danger is only slightly-higher than Earth but increases with altitude, becoming severe above 6000m, the altitude of most of the nearside and farside highlands. At this altitude, sunburn occurs three times as quickly and is three times as severe as at sea level; any humans in the open in the basalt badlands must be dark-skinned or otherwise sunscreened; both humans and Vargr must take precautions against UV glare blindness and long-term eye damage.
The planet is seismically and volcanically-active; seismic quakes and volcanic eruptions are constant macro-scale dangers. Populated areas are normally well away from active volcanoes, but volcanic event encounters are still common, the most common event being caught in an ashfall, with accompanying atmospheric taint.
The deep atmosphere and multiple cloud altitudes increase the power of storms, from simple (and spectacular) thunderstorms to powerful hurricanes. Weather can become very violent very fast, though there is usually some advance warning. Usually.
Much of the native plant life and most of the sea life are poisonous to both Humans and Vargr. Seafood is not on the menu here, except for some less-toxic species similar to Fugu.
Most of the (toxic) native plant species are easily distinguished from the (usually not toxic) transplanted Vargr-world species. Most of them. “Go with the green plants and avoid the orange” is generally safe. Offset by the fact that scent-oriented Vargr deliberately cultivate and raise several native plants for the pleasant aromas they emit.
However, if you’re not into X-treme Gardening or going around grazing, the most common toxic-plant encounter is a contact skin rash similar to poison ivy or poison oak. Getting the irritant toxin off Vargr fur is a bit of a problem (involving shavers), and the aftereffects look and feel more like mange than anything else.
On land, the bite of some insectoids can trigger allergic reactions, mostly of the severe bite-inflammation variety; severity varies from person to person. When bitten, roll 2D against Endurance + 1D; if End+, take 2D damage from anaphylactic shock, else just severe swelling and reddening of the bite site. Various forms of insectoid repellents and nettings are common at certain times of year when they swarm.
Outside densely-populated areas, another major hazard is wildfire. One of the local families of plant life, a myriad of closely-related species collectively called “Firewood Trees”, are similar to Eucalyptus in their variety and extreme flammability – these plants contain so much resin they burn even when green (orange, actually). Wildfires are part of their reproductive cycle in the manner of California Chaparral, clearing the ground and fertilizing it with ash that used to be a forest; fire-resistant seeds are released during the burn to germinate and sprout in the ashes. With volcanic soil seeded with ash, these forests grow back fast, ready for the next burn within a few local years. When a wildfire starts, whether by accident, arson, lightning, or volcano, it’s bad – a raging wall of fire consuming everything in its path.
Population and History
Macumeran System was originally colonized by Vargr an unknown time ago, possibly during the First Vargr Diaspora, more likely during the breakup of the Gvurrdon Hvaek. Given the mythological dimension of Vargr-recorded history, any reconstruction of Macumeran’s early history will always be speculative.
Some time after its establishment, the colony crashed due to a global natural disaster. Either a supervolcanic eruption of one of the Knaergannside mega-calderas, an asteroid impact from either of the belts, or both in combination killed most of the population and ushered in a planetary Long Night.
For centuries, Agudegh’s packs struggled along at an estimated Tech Level 2bis, primitive “wolfpacks” preying on each other and churning within. Then slowly, over more centuries, they built themselves back up, from tribal packs to “city-states” of packholds surrounded by grazing land to short-lived pack alliances under charismatic leaders, paralleling the original rise of Vargr civilization on their ancestral homeworld.
With one important difference – the ruins and artifacts and surviving knowledge of the original colony. These provided guidance (and surviving tech stashes for charismatic warlords), aided by Vargr racial inquisitiveness and curiosity. Eventually things shook out into a characteristically-Vargr civilization.
With the rise of mass media, one highly-charismatic pack became dominant over a wide area on Knaergannside – the ancestors of today’s “Royals”, who have kept on top of the crazy-quilt of Vargr politics for the past 300 or so years.
Economy and Trade
Trade Class: Rich, Agricultural
Eaglestone Trade Index: 3 (200 passengers, 7000 dtons/week)
Exports: Various cash crops, organic chemicals
Imports: TL10+ manufactured goods
Services: Refined fuel
“Agricultural” exports are mostly various plantation-grown cash crops for the subsector. As befits a carnivorous race, domestic-consumption “Agriculture” is more likely to be ranching than farming. As a Rich world, Agudegh is also a popular passenger stop.
Cities and Starports
For a world with a population of some 70 million (over 60 million of them on the quadruple continent Knaergannside), Agudegh has very few large cities.
The largest is The Royal City of some 4 million, location of the main C-class downport. This downport is actually a “C+” port, offering refined fuel.
The highport, also C+, is a medium-sized space station keeping station around the Knaergann-Agudegh L1 point (directly between the two planets) with a crew/population of under 4000. It normally handles refueling and loading/unloading for large unstreamlined ships, comsat, and GPS coverage over Knaergannside, and acts as a depot for fuel-skim lighters and belter operations.
The five other “major cities” (four on Knaergannside, one on the largest Antipodes island) are all under one million, varying from 500,000 to 900,000 population and C to D downports. All six (The Royal City and the other five) compete for offworld traffic; a free-trader Jumping insystem will probably be “steered” to multiple downports all at once.
The world’s other “cities” are more properly large towns averaging around 50,000 population or so, usually from closely-related packs. These towns originated from self-sufficient pack freeholds and are well-spaced with a ring of open land surrounding them for agriculture, ranching, and firebreaks.
Tech Level notes
Agudegh is Tech Level 9 (“Y2K”), at least on Knaergannside; the Antipodes can vary anywhere from TL2 to 8 depending on location and isolation.
Kneargannside is an Information Age society with hemisphere-wide Internet, mass media, and satellite/cell/GPS coverage routed from the highport at L1. Because of the slight lightspeed lag to and from the L1 point, the highest-bandwith applications require landline connections. Satellite/cellphones here are primarily-audio telephones, not the all-in-one datasystems of higher tech levels. GPS navigation (map box) is accurate to within 100 meters.
Masonry architecture (usually volcanic stone or dark grey brick) predominates, with metal-framed buildings a close second; local wood is too much of a fire hazard, and the less-flammable woods are rare and expensive.
However, local wood can be processed into both solid and liquid fuel. Resins extracted from the wood can be refined into a thick fuel oil; some of this can be mixed into biodiesel for internal-combustion engines (Diesel or gas turbine), but the thickness of the raw oil favors external-combustion engines (steam or Stirling). The leftover wood pulp is also useable as a cream-colored solid fuel analogous to low-sulfur coal.
Grav vehicles are rare and usually imported from offworld; wheeled vehicles or aerodynamic aircraft are much more common. The major cities (all six of them) are all-electric with imported fusion plants, while freehold towns often have their own wood pulp powerplants for local power.
The Antipodes are completely different, almost like another world. There the highest Tech Level is 8 (“Late Cold War”), and that only on the hemisphere’s only large city and its mini-continent large island. Once you get outside of there (by bush plane or ferryboat to the other islands), all bets are off – Tech Levels down to 2, spotty (mostly radio) communications, and no GPS or wireless/Net.
Macumeranese Vargr society reverted to their ancestral canid pack structure during their Long Night. The basic unit is an extended family pack, usually numbering 20-200 adults, with the usual Vargr churning among alphas, betas, and omegas. These family packs tend to live together in “pack houses”, descended from a communal “Long House” arrangement.
Depending on planetary region, a “pack house” could be a true communal “longhouse”, a tight cluster of individual dwellings, or (in urban areas), an apartment block. Traditionally, longhouses were clustered around a central communal area with a shrine or fire pit and were rimmed with protective perimeter walls. To this day, Macumeranese pack houses and apartment blocks follow a similar pattern, grouped around central courtyards.
Another archaic custom is that all pups are counted as offspring of the pack’s alpha couple(s), and the alphas do bear a majority of the pack’s pups. Lower-ranking bitches are discouraged from breeding and often “married off” to other packs, binding the packs into some sort of connection. The Royal Pack is no exception; “marrying a minor princess” is a common theme in Macumeranese romance and storytelling. (As any Saudi male with the ancestral patronymic “ibn Saud” is a “prince”, so any member of the Royal Pack can style themselves “prince” or “princess”. The exact level of kinship is open to debate, especially with Vargr churn in the Royal Pack.)
In interstellar society, some of these bitches are married off to non-Vargr (usually humans), eliminating the chance of messy heirs. (And providing hooks for stories and adventures.)
Attitude towards psionics is intermediate; tolerated so long as it isn’t blatant. A folk-magic mythology grew up around psionics during the Long Night, and remains to this day in tradition and fiction – the “witches” deep in the wilderness, the “wierding packs” of wizards, the “Fire Witch” riding the firestorms in the Outback.
Philosophy and Religion
Vargr have never been much for philosophy per se, and Macumeranese Vargr are no exceptions, tending to be very pragmatic and down-to-Agudegh, with a sprinkling of folk beliefs and one major exception.
On the subject of religion, Vargr tend towards highly-charismatic and personal “holy roller” figures and high-energy observances. Again, Macumeranese Vargr are no exceptions. The most widespread faith insystem bears many similarities to mainstream Vargr’s Senghik Outon faith, but developed independently.
Senghik Outon is an abstractly-monotheistic form of Spiritualism, whose enthusiastic rites center around channeling the spirits of the dead in small congregational meetings, from “words of prophecy” messages to Voudoun-style possession. The Macumeranese equivalent adds several specific folk beliefs and doctrines, resulting in a “Santeria” form:
- An intermediate level of “demi-deities” between the abstract Godhead and spirits of mortal Vargr called “The Divine Pack”; though most analogous to “patron saints”, in some branches these approximate the “Loa” of Voudoun. The most widespread branch has a sunrise-observance ritual of Morning Howls to the Divine Pack.
- Emphasis on the spirits of pack Ancestors looking out for their descendants, akin to pack-specific saints or “guardian angels”. Some of these (especially the founders of a pack lineage) are not far off from demi-deities/patron saints and are included in the Morning Howls.
- Like mainstream Senghik Outon, there is no central hierarchy, though the Royal Pack’s branch is the largest and is considered “first among equals”.
In addition, Macumeran is a fertile ground for offworld missionaries whose faiths reflect Vargr sensibilities (or can easily be made to): small independent congregations and energetic charismatic worship.
Though not religions per se, many fraternal organizations (analogous to Freemasonry) also exist in parallel, many with overlapping memberships. These trans-pack Brother/Sisterhoods tend to stabilize Macumeranese society, acting as damper rods for the rapid-turnover “churn” of Vargr society.
Vargr society is based around small-scale tribal/pack structures, with a lot of turnover among the pack leaders as beta males and beta bitches gain Charisma enough to challenge the alphas for their positions. Loyalties are very fluid, as Vargr will flock to support the new pack alpha. Once the change shakes down, the pack structure remains stable until some external change (even a succession crisis) triggers another interlude of chaos.
At its worst, this Charisma Churn becomes a banana republic “Coup of the Week”. With much less lethal consequences for the loser; usually there is a public challenge (physical or non) and the loser steps down with reduced Charisma; sometimes he remains with the pack as a beta, sometimes he leaves as a packless wanderer.
Among Macumeranese Vargr, the existence of the above-mentioned cross-pack fraternal organizations (“Brotherhoods” or “Guilds”) has damped out some of the chaotic excesses of this system through sheer inertia of size; the resulting society has drifted into a peculiarly-Vargr brand of feudalism and a world-wide limited monarchy. Feudal in that all packs and factions theoretically give allegiance to a “Royal Pack” who handles all dealings with offworlders and speaks for the whole world. In practice, it’s Vargr; a swirl of packs and individuals gaining or losing Charisma and position tempered only by the inertia of large-scale organization.
The current Royal Pack has stayed “on the throne” for a record 300 local years, cultivating some impressive political skills which translate in game terms into higher Charisma.
In game terms, belonging to the Royal Pack gives a Vargr +1 to +4 Charisma due to “family connections”, an otherwise-obscure Royal would get the +1; the monarch or his/her immediate sons/daughters the +4.
Succession among the Royals is typically-Vargr: “Electors” – high-Charisma individuals among the Royal Pack and most influential “Noble” packs and Brotherhoods/Guilds choose the next Alpha from the pack of immediate heirs within the Royal Pack, and an Alpha may be deposed and replaced by a vote of no confidence from the Electors. Continuity of administration is maintained by a secondary bureaucracy of single Vargr from various packs or packless “wanderers” who have effectively formed their own pack within the system.
Though the Royal Pack is the official (and theoretically-unified) planetary government, other packs and Brotherhoods and Guilds operate parallel “shadow governments” at all levels, though all theoretically owe fealty to the Royal Pack — sort of a Balkanization-without-Balkanization.
The Royal Pack holds fealty (not “control”) only across Knaergannside, where 90% of the population reside; though some of the Antipodes is “civilized”, most of the islands are split up into independent packs and fiefdoms, many of them with lower-tech “tribal” societies.
The system maintains 25 regiments of ground forces, equipped to Tech Level 9 (Y2K technology); the 3 offworld-capable regiments are grouped into an “expeditionary division”.
Except for the offworld-capable regiments and Royal Guard (a single regiment drawn from the Royal Pack), armed forces are raised by feudal levy from sanctioned mercenary/corsair packs. These levies can be any size from small units to full regiments, and often see action against each other, in minor inter-pack skirmishing.
As a requirement for Royal sanction, the Royal Pack insists on more-or-less standardized organization and equipment, so sanctioned units are fairly consistent. This standard organization is unique, with squads, companies, and regiments the only permanent units; platoons and battalions are ad hoc combat teams organized as needed in the field. Most of the heavy equipment is either bought offworld or produced under license, as Agudegh has only limited manufacturing capability.
Vargr units (especially feudal levy “militias”) normally elect their own officers and commanders according to Charisma; even in Royal Guard units, appointed officers normally team with and command through the highest-Charisma leader-type in the unit regardless of formal rank. Since Charisma is so volatile, Vargr unit leadership can vary considerably. And often; if a commander loses Charisma in the field, the unit can depose and replace him/her in a “field mutiny” with a new high-Charisma commander.
Vargr morale is more fragile than humans; Vargr will often rout when ambushed or when the fight is going against them. However, they rally and recover morale much easier than humans, usually under new command after a field mutiny. Often a human unit has routed a Vargr OPFOR, only to find themselves blindsided by a rally and counterattack “under new management”.
In Royal service, corsair packs/bands are contracted mercenary companies. Offworld, these corsairs maintain a quasi-legality as “mercenary units” and “privateers”, and often hire out as such under the subsector’s established Mercenary codes and bonding agencies. In addition, many “unbonded” units skulk and lurk on the edge, going corsair or criminal. (And, of course, a change in Charisma/command can move a mercenary/corsair pack to the other side of the line. Or back. It’s Vargr. Woof.)
The system maintains 4000 tons of system defense assets — SDBs, fighters, patrol craft, surface missile bases, and surface anti-missile lasers — plus grants letters of marque to corsairs, contracting them to serve as planetary/system navy for specified durations; the system otherwise discourages corsairing under pressure from neighboring systems. Naturally, unbonded corsairs find ways around this.
As a satellite world, the hundred-diameter safe Jump limit is determined by the primary Knaerrgan, a Size 45 planet with a safe Jump distance of 8,000,000km (intermediate between the “small gas giant” and “large gas giant” distance). As Agudegh is in orbit around Knaergann, use the “small gas giant” distance when boosting directly out and the “large gas giant” distance when going “the long way” around Knaergann.
Macumeranese Vargr have a unique spread of language and dialects, descendants of Arrghoun instead of the usual Gvegh spoken by mainstream Vargr. (This is evidence for initial settlement during or immediately after the time of the Arrghoun-speaking Gvurrdon Hvaek.) The system appears to have been originally colonized by Arrghoun-speaking packs, and the language drifted during their system-wide Long Night.
Arrghoun itself is a dead language, having been replaced by the Gvegh language family some 900 years ago. Originally a trade pidgin, it is known for its simple word structure and lack of elaborate noun declensions and verb conjugations. Macumeranese Vargr speak dialects which bear the same relationship to original Arrghoun as Spanish or Italian does to Latin. The rise of mass media has diminished regional variations except on the islands of the Antipodes.
One example is the names of the planets in the system, which are in a very archaic Arrghoun. Except for Thorzarg Tsan (“Outer Gate”), the planetary names are the equivalent of “Macumeran I”, “Macumeran II”, etc. – literally “First Planet”, “Second Planet”, etc. The exceptions are the moons of Knaergrann (“Fourth Planet”), which use the suffix -degh (“World”) – Agudegh (“Jewel World”, presumably because it was naturally habitable) and Zhodegh (“Wandering World”, presumably from its wandering motion in the sky of Agudegh).
Result: Macumeranese Vargr speak completely different tongues than offworld Vargr, with little or no commonality.
Zhodegh D330411-8 Poor, Des, Non-Ind
(Macumeran IV-B, the smaller/outer moon of Knaergann)
Knaergann’s outer moon, Zhodegh is a slightly-smaller, sandy-colored equivalent of Mars, partially “terraformed” during the initial colonization. Some ruins exist from that period, mostly buried under the sands, but none of the original Vargr there seem to have survived the Long Night. The current population of 50,000 are all post-Long Night settlement.
Zhodegh is also tidally-locked to Knaergann, with a roughly 170-hour day/night cycle (7.14 T-days, about three Agudegh days). Knaergann appears about half the size it does from Agudegh, and eclipses the sun only near the equinoxes themselves, while Agudegh is visible from Knaergannside, growing and shrinking as it orbits.
Though the “terraforming” lichens have resulted in an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, it is still much too thin to breathe unassisted and is tainted with windblown silica dust. So thin that liquid water barely exists on the surface – what surface water there is are night-time frosts which usually sublime/evaporate during the day.
The sky is dark at the zenith and sandy-colored near the horizon, with occasional cirrus clouds.
Local vegetation is mostly lichen of varying colors, but darker than the native soil; you can see the seasons change from Agudegh
Small settlements (none larger than a few thousand population) dot the world under domes or dug-in underground against the long scorching days, freezing nights, and not-quite-breathable atmosphere, working various forms of resource extraction, Agudegh-forming, and “rooning” artifacts left over from before The Long Night. The three largest of these settlements have planetary-defense bases and D ports.
The Asteroid Belts
Knaergann (and Agudegh/Zhodegh) orbit directly between two asteroid belts. At Tech Level 9 with offworld connections, both Inner and Outer Belts are Belter country open to exploitation, with a lot of Vargr charismatic chaos above and beyond that of normal Belter operations.
Inner Belt D000363-8 Asteroid, Non-Ind
Macumeran Inner Belt is carbonaceous chondrites and various stony asterioids, with a permanent population of some 5000 belters. Much of the asteroid mining here is organized by corporate bodies (Guild, large pack, offworld corp, or partnerships of all the above) based out of dwarf planets in the Belt, with few freelancers or independents. Similar to a more scattered Vargr version of the movie Outland.
Outer Belt E000304-8 Asteroid, Non-Ind
Macumeran Outer Belt is nickel-iron and other heavy metals, with a permanent population of around 9000 belters. Unlike the Inner Belt, the Outer Belt is the realm of independent Belters who have formed into ad-hoc packs; solo prospecting, claim-jumping, and even minor Corsairing – the direct Antipodes of the Inner Belt. Many of the independents are exiles from pack politics or asocial self-exiles/”Mountain Man” types; even the ad-hoc packs and Belter “bases” are more akin to a spacegoing Deadwood than Outland.
Wolf among the Yotes: Mainstream Vargr from offworld visit Macumeran. Local Vargr are a distinct ethnic type with an isolated culture; opportunities for culture shock. They don’t look like Vargr, they don’t smell like Vargr, they don’t speak like Vargr, they don’t act like Vargr…
Don’t Mess with the Missionary Man: Offworld missionaries of a charismatic human faith are making converts among the Macumeranese Vargr. The existing native-religion packs don’t like having their members rustled and try to win them back. Could go anywhere from “can you top this” competition to win members back to violence.
Woof! You’re my PhD thesis: A variant of Wolf among the Yotes. Arrghoun is a dead language; some Vargr linguists have been searching for extant Arrghoun-speaking worlds for study. Well, here’s one off in this backwater cluster and where the specimens are the scientists will swarm. The locals may not take this very well. Especially when the most interesting dialects are spoken on the isolated islands of the Antipodes. Which leads directly into:
Kaboona say “But first, SHU-SHU!”: So far, we’ve assumed on-world means the TL9 civilization of Knaerrganside. What about adventuring in the more low-tech and chaotic “South Seas” of the Antipodes? Could go anywhere from tropical resorts to pulp South Sea adventures to “Cruise of the Kawa” absurdities to Cargo Cults to “Death by Shu Shu” danger. Above and beyond the natural Antipodes hazards of superstorms, seismic quakes/tsunamis, and volcanoes. Spotty communications and transportation could leave high-tech Travellers at the mercy of shortwave radio and/or crazy coyote bush pilots.
On the Frontier: Macumeran Outer Belt is just becoming established; as time passes and the system develops, the existing small Belter packs and lone Belters (often exiled losers from pack politics) will yield to organized/corporate asteroid mining as is done in the Inner Belt. Civilization (or at least the Vargr version of it) is coming to the frontier. A strike of some valuable mineral (Second Stable Series? Ransdell Metal a la Bronson’s Star?) could trigger a rush. WELCOME TO FURRY DEADWOOD!
Brotherhood of the Coast: Corsairing (i.e. Piracy) is a spacegoing Vargr’s racial pastime. Officially, Macumeran System has no corsair activity; under pressure from the other systems in its subsector, it operates only licensed privateers (effectively “naval mercenary companies”) under official Letters of Marque. However, some of the privateers might do a little freelance raiding on the side and/or corsair bands might operate in secret from covert boltholes in the outer system. Keeping secrecy (or sniffing out corsair bands) provides lots of opportunities for cloak-and-dagger as well as going Viking, as a corsair’s survival here depends on keeping their existence secret. This could be combined with “On the Frontier”, as the lone Belters of the Outer Belt would be natural go-betweens.
The main world of Agudegh was originally rolled up (under the temporary name of “Lupine”) as part of a subsector for a 1982 Traveller campaign but never came into play.
Its accompanying system (named after a “land of dog-headed people” from medieval travellers’ tales) was randomly rolled from Book 6: Scouts some years later, breaking down into three distinct zones (inner, middle, and outer) with the middle zone prime real estate of a small gas giant with habitable moon/satellite main world between two asteroid belts.
Appendix: Macumeranese Ground Forces Organization
Though raised by feudal levy from sanctioned corsair packs, the Royal Pack insists on more-or-less standardized organization and equipment as a requirement for Royal sanction, so sanctioned units are fairly consistent.
This standard organization is unique and complex, with squads, companies, and regiments the only permanent units; platoons and battalions are ad hoc combat teams organized as needed in the field.
Much of the weaponry are offworld designs and/or imports, as Agudegh has only limited manufacturing capability.
Light Infantry/Militia Company
The basic unit is the section, a squad of two fire teams with an attached heavy weapons team. Six sections plus six support weapons sections (three direct-fire of a different type than the squad weapons teams, three indirect-fire) make up a company. The company support weapons sections may be Vargr-packed or mobile on “Technicals” (repurposed all-terrain trucks mounting a heavy weapon such as a Tac Missile, 23mm autocannon, or mortar).
These six sections are organized into ad hoc platoons, under either a “Three by Two” or “Two by Three” system.
- Three-by-Two: Three ad hoc line platoons, each of two sections plus one company heavy weapons team/technical. Indirect-fire (mortar) sections are kept together with HQ as a fourth platoon.
- Two-by-Three: Two ad hoc line platoons of three sections; company heavy weapons are kept together as a third dedicated heavy weapons platoon.
Three tanks, three APCs (each carrying an infantry section) and a two-vehicle HQ. The HQ is always a command post APC with one attached weapons vehicle, either a tank-chassis point defense vehicle or an APC-chassis mortar carrier with rapid-fire autoloading mortar.
- Three-by-Two: Three ad hoc line platoons, each of one tank and one APC.
- Two-by-Three: Three-tank ad hoc tank platoon and three-APC infantry platoon.
All armored vehicles use the same basic chassis, a twelve-wheeled semi-rollagon; each wheel is independently-powered with large low-aspect balloon tires. These are imported designs, from the human world of Grenna in the Dole Subcluster.
- Tanks mount a 130mm CPR gun in a low “onion-dome” turret along with a 23mm autocannon. Macumeranese prefer the more flexible CPR gun instead of the Grennan’s HKP hypervelocity cone-bore which can only fire KEAP rounds.
- APCs are straight imports from Grenna, twelve-passenger vehicles mounting a remote-mount 23mm autocannon. Each normally carries a standard infantry section of two fire teams plus a heavy weapons team (usually a light tac missile).
FAV Company (Recon, Attack, or Mixed)
Six sections, each of two FAVs. FAVs are like “dune-buggy technicals”, fast four-wheeled vehicles, either unarmored or armored against small-arms fire, mounting a 23mm autocannon plus either sensors/stealth (for recon) or a light tac missile (for assault).
In the field, the company deploys as either six independent (scout) sections, three two-section platoons, or two three-section platoons. If deployed “Three-by-Two” as independent platoons, indirect-fire sections (single mortar on technical) might be attached to each platoon; otherwise, they are usually concentrated in a mortar platoon at Company HQ.
Protected Forces Company
Protected Forces are equipped for offworld operations, especially vacuum and/or hostile atmosphere conditions. They are the only grav-mobile regular forces on Agudegh, riding in G-carriers. They are equipped accordingly, often with imported TL10bis equipment – early vacc-capable Combat Armor, recoilless gyrojet weapons instead of CPRs (ARL gyrorifle, ARL-SAW gyro-LMG, 20mm Heavy Gyrorifle/LAG, 20mm gyrocannon HMGs), and tac missiles.
A company consists of six G-carrier sections (grav APCs of similar capacity to the wheeled APCs and mounting 20mm gyrocannons), three “guncarriers” (G-carrier based grav tanks with laser main gun and 20mm gyrocannon secondary), and an HQ with attached grav-mobile
- Three-by-Two: Three ad hoc platoons, each of 2 G-carriers and one grav tank.
- Two-by-Three: Two ad hoc platoons of 3 G-carriers and one of 3 grav tanks.
- HQ is always one command post G-carrier with any additional heavy weapons (usually artillery or point-defense lasers) attached on G-carrier-based grav chassis.
There are only two or three Protected Forces regiments (each the usual six companies) on Agudegh; all are Royal Pack/Royal Guard and are the most likely regiments to deploy offworld.
A regiment consists of six line companies (which may or may not be of the same type) plus Regimental Artillery (usually artillery, point defense, or direct-fire heavy weapons in six-mount batteries). They are also split into ad hoc battalion task forces on a Three-by-Two or Two-by-Three pattern, with regimental assets usually attached on a pro-rated basis.
Artillery are TL9 rocket howitzers and/or MRLs.
There is no permanent organization above regiment, but regiments can be grouped into brigades or divisions as-needed or for administrative purposes.
Corsairs use any organization they damn well please, with little or no commonality. Most corsair bands/ships have landing parties smaller than company-strength; the most common organization is two-sections-plus-heavy-weapon-team platoons such as are found in the Light Infantry/Militia or Protected Forces Three-by-Two.
Designer’s Notes for Armed Forces
Macumeranese armed forces organization are based on another canid race, the “Rauwoofs” of FGU’s 1980 Space Marines SF miniature rules by A Mark Ratner.
Since six sub-units is too wide a span of command, the main difference is in-the-field organization into the “Three-by-Two” or “Two-by-Three” ad hoc combat teams/task forces. Vargr tend to be very chaotic in general, and would probably go for a system with a lot of individual variation. It’s a miracle that the Royal Pack has enough clout and Charisma to enforce what standardization there is.