Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cradle of the Reborn Sun

Another chapter from the never completed House of the Lion faction book.

RAVENNA

A tranquil orb of blue and green, only the planet’s mountain ranges and few desert regions mar Ravenna’s impression of uniform serenity. A stellar anomaly of sorts, Ravenna has no set axis, but rather spins in a gentle, ever shifting pattern around the great gravity engines at its core. Bathed in the warm light of a stable yellow sun, Ravenna is often called a living paradise by those who call it home. Mirroring its geological stability, the nobles of Ravenna seemingly prize political stability above other considerations. This is a centuries-old proposition which only now seems to be unraveling.

Planetary Traits

Star: Storn (pale yellow star)
System: Mosari (0.57AU), Ravenna (1.02AU; Triangulus), Jualwa (6.58AU), Dro (18.54AU; 23 moons), Madro (19.72AU; 17 moons), Nylus (32.99AU), Jumpgate (68.09AU), Ploo (72.58AU)
Jumps: Velisamil, Leminkainen, Gwynneth, Delphi
Capital: Celdor
Resources: stone, gem stones, precious metals, deuterium
Exports: marble, jewelry, fine arts, foods

History

Discovered from Delphi by Independent explorers in 2505, they surveyed a stormy and hostile world. The inclement conditions where driven by the planet’s extreme axial tilt that alternated conditions between the extremes of heat and cold. The surface of the world was often broken by tectonic activity that dredged up massive mineral wealth from the depth of the planets mantle.
Despite the hostility of the conditions Ravenna possessed a natural biome of it’s own, though many of the life forms that called the world home were inimical to human life. Clearly, exploiting the mineral-rich planet demanded great sacrifices of human and financial capital. A number of competing corporate interests from the declining First Republic sought to gain control of the mineral wealth, this included the Cynostar Corporation that already held Delphi, its strategic placement and the fact that it had recently redeployed to Delphi gave it an advantage over the competition when the land grab came.

The Diaspora

Many of the first colonists to arrive on Ravenna came from Delphi, perhaps driven by their pioneering spirit to see what lay over the next horizon, but most would have arrived with the deployment of the Cynostar’s assets. Many others soon followed from Urth arriving with other Ziabatsu corporation intent on surviving the slow unraveling of the First Republic.
The storm tossed and tectonically active world had few places of safety to establish secure holdings, though Cynostar had the advantage of being the first to arrive and therefore secured the most strategic sites.
As other corporate interests began to arrive Cynostar resisted these incomers, under the leadership Ravenna branch CEO John-James Mountbatten (2479-2622). The later period of the 26th century became a corporate claim war fought between Cynostar and the arriving conglomerates from Urth. Even with Cynostar’s head start it was unable to secure its dominion of Ravenna due in the main to the hostility of the environment and the indigenous life forms.
In the mean time Cynostar gradually began to change, moving from a corporate to an extended family structure under the leadership of John-James. The best description for the political situation on Ravenna for much of the later 26th and early 27th century could be described as a cold war. Each of the surviving corporations began to morph in to something approximating landholding nobility, but each in a perpetual state of cold war with each of their neighbors.
In was only when the Hawkwoods reached out from Delphi to reassert their claims over the territories held by the Cynostar Corporation did the stalemate crumble. In 2623 the two halves of the Cynostar Corporation were rejoined as a political marriage between Trevor Hawkwood and Marianne Mountbatten, brought the fledgling House Mountbatten into the greater House Hawkwood.
As the final vestiges of the First Republic fell many worlds suffered unrest, and new politely structures struggled for dominance. The Mountbatten family, with Hawkwood support was able to assert significant military strength and crush most of its competitors bring about a period of relative peace and stability on the otherwise stormy world.
In 2799 the Prophet Zebulon visited Ravenna, thereby changing it forever. Ravenna’s harsh environment had bred an apocalyptic furor and the planet welcomed his words of salvation with the ardor of true converts. From then on, Ravenna became the most devout (and conservative) of Hawkwood worlds. When the Prophet died on his embassy to the Vau, the planet went into deep mourning. This bereavement was such that one of the Prophet’s most pious followers, Lord Cato Hawkwood, followed the Prophet’s lead; he took a ship full of the devout into space and crashed it into the jumpgate. Others sought to follow his example, but House Hawkwood repelled additional suicide attempts for fear they would damage the jumpgate. Saint Cato’s image remains a prominent fixture in Ravennan stained glass windows and other iconography.

The Second Republic

During the Second Republic, Ravenna underwent a physical metamorphosis to match its earlier spiritual transformation. Fantastically prosperous because of its mineral wealth, Ravenna invested in the most advanced terraforming technology, remaking the hostile world into a garden paradise. The Second Republic scientists used force fields and colossal gravity engines to correct the planet’s flawed axial tilt, making its current changing rotation virtually unique in the Known Worlds. Though the radical procedure took almost two centuries to realign the planets extreme axial tilt. The use of sophisticated weather control technology eased the transition and realignment of the planets environment.
With great effort, hunters wiped out most of the native predators, though some escaped into the planet’s nearly endless underground caverns. Vast tracks of land were set aside as nature reserves and the planet imported less dangerous wildlife from a dozen other worlds. Indispensable to this project, the beast-speakers of House Trusnikron settled in the North Folari continent and have remained close allies of House Hawkwood ever since.
Many today view this as an act of ultimate hubris, altering the Pancreator’s work. Indeed, some blame this act for the fading suns phenomenon noticed there a century later.

The New Dark Ages

Despite its dependence on high technology, Ravenna was among the first planets to heed the Universal Church’s call and discard republican rule. Indeed, Ravenna was one of the few planets to avoid mass violence during that time. The faithful abandoned the cities and returned to a saner and more holy way of life in the country. The planet only reserved some technology to defend itself and to help its less agreeable neighbors (especially Gwynneth, Leminkainen and Velisamil) to follow its path to a more agrarian existence. Ensconced in what it considered a new holy age, the conservative populace was slow to adopt the Doctrine of the Privilege of Martyrs, allowing the clergy (and eventually nobles and guilds) freer access to technology. It was only the advent of the Barbarian Invasions in 4525 that partially shifted most people’s thinking on the matter. All Hawkwood planets suffered during the barbarian invasions, though Ravenna, buffered by Leminkainen and Gwynneth, did not suffer raids until the late 45th century onwards.
In 4520 the Barbarian fleet of Thane Froijir scattered the assembled Hawkwood Fleet in the Leminkainen system and struck at lightning speed hitting both Ravenna and onwards into the Delphi system. But this was no mere raid this was a fully-fledged invasion and Ravenna was cut off from the other Hawkwood worlds and beset by murderous pagans. For the next thirty years much of Ravenna came under the heel of the Vuldrok.
This was no passive occupation, the people of Ravenna were conservative and stanchly orthodox, bolstered by their faith many areas of the planet though isolated from each other and from off world Hawkwood support, they continued to fight, and considered in their religious duty to throw of the shackles of their oppressors. The occupation of Ravenna was the bloodiest of any of the worlds captured by the Invaders.
Eventually Prince Gervaise II liberated the world in 4547, backed by a coalition of Hawkwood, Justinian and Alecto forces. This was not the end of the war against the Vuldrok, but only the beginning, what followed was several years of religious cleansings as Vuldrok, their sympathizers and bastards were systematically tracked down and brought to cleansing flame. If it was possible the Vuldrok occupation had only made the people of Ravenna even more conservative and devout in their faith.
The next time Ravenna would cross the stage of galactic politics was in 4684 when Lady Avyryl Hawkwood, the planet’s nominal ruler, married Bishop Halvor Li Halan of Kish and threw her political weight behind his bid to become patriarch and Emperor. The rest of the family, fearful that she might bring Ravenna into the Li Halan fold (and generally opposed to a theocracy) blockaded Ravenna. Challenged by Halvor’s forces, the combined might of House Hawkwood destroyed the invading fleet and arrested Lady Avyryl. When Halvor died from a mysterious malady a year later, the ambitious duchess ruled House Li Halan in her son’s name until he came of age, where upon she retreated to a private life in a convent on Velisamil.

The Emperor Wars

Ravenna has again come to galactic prominence in recent years, but this time as the birthplace of Emperor Alexius I. Born to the family matriarch, the Duchess Regnus-Octavia and her paramour, Duke Utar Vincius Hawkwood, Alexius grew up in a house at war. His uncle, Prince Darius Hawkwood, had triggered the Emperor Wars in his ill-fated attempt to be named to the Phoenix Throne.
 Upon Darius’ death (4977), Lady Octavia threw her support behind her sons, Alexius and Alverax. With the dowager mother’s backing, Alexius was able to quell family dissension and out-maneuver other rivals to Darius’ power.
When Alexius I ascended the Phoenix Throne, he surprised many by ceding his Ravenna lands and title to his brother, Duke Alvarex, and distancing himself from the family. This act does did not sit well with many on his home planet. Ravenna is a now a world of barely contained resentment. Rivalries within the Hawkwood family have in places broken out in to actual warfare where brother fights brother for control of hereditary fiefs. Duke Alvarex initially quelled many of these disputed by calling for unity in the face of barbarian aggression and for a time this held things together. But succession wars have become all too common on Ravenna. No longer is it the right of the oldest to inherit the title and fief of his family, but instead such things must be won through the use of military might to clear the route to succession.

Solar System

Storn:
Mosari: Mosari is an unsual world, blanketed in a thick wrap of toxic carbon and sulfur dioxide. It exerts a surprisingly high gravitational field and very strong magnetosphere, both of which act in concert to prevent its atmosphere from being steadily eroded by its proximity to Storn. It is believed that the planet has a tiny extremely dense corethat creates both of these effects but is largely composed of gases.  As such Mosari has been dubbed a “miniature gas giant”.  Inhospitable in the extreme, the planet is scoured by hurricane-speed winds and shrouds many mysteries within its clocking gas shroud.
Ravenna: Ravenna is the system’s second major satellite and the only planet with a life-sustaining atmosphere. Its current climate and stability are largely due to Second Republic terraforming that corrected the extreme axial tilt that drove both aberrant weather systems and extreme tectonic upheavals.
Ravenna’s moon, Triangulus, is roughly 1/10 Ravenna’s size; it maintains an artificial atmosphere and the gravity of a planetoid six times its mass. Though life is sustainable, it is by no means easy. The rocky soil makes for poor crops, and nobles who manage fiefs here usually really on mining for their principle income. The Muster has a strong presence, operating a penal colony that makes use of prisoners as a slave labor force to mine various minerals for use in manufacturing.
Jualwa: A small rocky planet that was subjected to systematic strip-mining to supply the needs of the world engineers when they manufactured the tremendous gravity engines that now sit at the core of Ravenna. All that remains is small rocky world riddled with caves and massive caverns, sometimes miles deep. It is said that some of these caverns are so large that one could hide a whole fleet inside, if you could be sure of find the way back out again. There are persistent rumors of pirates operating from Jualwa, but little hard evidence backs up tales of a pirate city built at the heart of a great labyrinth of caves.
Dro: A great gas giant of swirling red storm clouds, unusually Dro travels in opposing orbital direction to the other worlds in the solar system leading First Republican astronomers to speculate about its possible extra-solar origins. Dro has 23 moons, most of which are unremarkable barren and rocky. They all show some signs of ancient habitation, having at some point in the distant past either having been mined or subjected to sizable excavations.
Strangely, ancient records recently recovered by the Charioteers record Dro has have 47 moons, thought there is no indication of what happened to the missing moons or when exactly they disappeared.
Madro: Dro’s physical twin, Madro the pair appear as two scarlet specs in the Ravenna sky. Often called the “Eyes of Azzurayelos” (the demonic Lord of the Gates of Death), their conjunction in the sky is supposed to portend death and calamity. Madro has 17 moons and much like those of Dro there are a great many ancient remains, though most have been picked clean of useful tech by the Scravers long ago.
Nylus: Nylus is a large, rocky world, at least three times Ravenna’s mass. Its massive gravity allowed the world to hold onto its atmosphere as the world cooled at the dawn of the solar system. However as the temperature dropped the gases cooled, turning to liquid, much of which is now frozen across its surface obscuring the details of the world from orbital surveys. The gravity is far too great to allow for human exploration of the world, despite its considerable mineral wealth.
Ploo: Ploo is a small chunk of frozen rock. There are those who question if it should be classified as a planet at all. Following an elliptical orbit that brings it close to the orbit of the Jumpgate every 345 years. Its position outside the solar system means that this world has not been visited since the time of Second Republic when a survey mission reportedly landed there.

People and Places

The people of Ravenna are often characterized by stern, disapproving, and taciturn with a strong Orthodox morality. Like all stereotypes there is a foundation of truth to this perception. Ravenna is certainly the most traditional and zealous of the Hawkwood homeworlds and the Universal Church holds a great deal of sway in the hearts and minds of the people. Many are disapproving of rapid change and what many see as the defection of the Emperor has created a bitter undercurrent in the usual Hawkwood reserve.
Ravenna has three continents (Castillo, Andyra and Folari) and eight major island groups (Chul, Kasi, Trieste, Austram East, Austram West, Lugano, Locarno and Bredonia). Originally torn apart by runaway tectonic activity, the planet’s geological destiny is now determined by its aging planetary engines dug deep into the core of the world. The strange tumbling rotation of the planet ensures an even distribution of sunlight to all areas of the globe, ensuring a temperate climate with now polar caps. There are still predictable seasonal variations depending on the precise phase of the rotation, though his never reaches the summer heat or winter chill of other worlds.
Traditionally Ravenna has been divided into three duchies and a county, the foremost of which is Duchy of Andyra, currently held by the Duke Alverax Hawkwood, the Emperor’s brother. Duke Alverax is also named as the Protector of Ravenna, making him the ruling planetary lord and second in authority only to Princess Victoria on Delphi. Duke Cassius Hawkwood rules the Duchy of South Folari. The Duchy of Austram has been divided by a succession war between the children of the former Duke. Though officially still a single duchy, these days it is considered to be two counties, the County of Austram East, ruled by Countess Cassandra Justinian Hawkwood, and the County of Austram West ruled by her brother Count Otto Kierkegaard Hawkwood. The Countess Morgana Solara Trusnikron holds the County of Folari North.
The continent of Castillo falls under the domain of the Universal Church and is officially ruled by Archbishop Sondra Nies.

Castillo

House Hawkwood gave this continent to the Church after the Fall; diplomatically, Castillo is now considered Terra Firma (part of Holy Terra). The citizens of Castillo are now considered among the most holy and devout in the Phoenix Empire. Industrious and honest to a fault, crime and corruption are virtually unknown among the continent’s common citizenry. The Inquisition operates quite openly here, but unlike in many regions, they have a wide degree of support as keepers of public order. It is not an unusual sight to see common citizens greet them on the street. Despite this, accusations of clerical corruption remain. Whether the citizenry’s honesty is a result of the continent’s inherent holiness, or of the Universal Church’s draconian adherence to Orthodox law and codes of punishment is in question.
The Castillo Theological University is a major font of learning throughout the Phoenix Empire; every year thousands of scholars, merchants and pilgrims visit the Castillian Holy Land. Little is left of the region’s mineral wealth, but the continent’s wineries, rich farmlands and industrious population have made the continent a major source of wealth for the Universal Church at large. Castillo is known for its cathedrals and holy places, including the mount in South Castillo where Zebulon addressed the multitudes.
Castillo is ruled by the Archbishop Sondra Nies, the elderly church leader has been a frequent and vocal detractor of Emperor Alexius I. criticizing him openly and frequently to her congregation. She is particular concerned by the rise of the Reborn Sun, the so called Emperor Cult, and has issued a number of Inquisitorial Seals through the planetary synod to empower the Inquisition on Ravenna to purge such heresies where ever they may be found.
Craintown: The capital of Castillo and the site of the planetary cathedral and a large airport that makes it easily accessible by flights from the worlds’ four spaceports. The city is not the largest on Castillo but it is widely considered to be the most architecturally beautiful city. Destroyed during the bombings of 4208, the entire city was conceived and designed by the genius of the noted theological architect, Benedict Ishim; more familiar with the design of cathedrals than whole cities he conceived the city as a whole as a place of worship. The Planetary Cathedral

Andyra

Emperor Alexius was born here but now, in his absence, his brother, Duke Alvarex and his bride, Duchess Penelope Hawkwood, rule Andyra. Despite occasionally strident criticism by the Ravenna Orthodoxy, Emperor Alexius I still remains wildly popular on his home continent, which remembers his even-handed rule. Even now, peasant homes across the region keep images of the Emperor in places of honor and pray every night for his well-being. A recent investigation ordered by Archbishop Lyander is probing accusations that the Reborn Sun has gained a foothold here.
Alexius I’s reign has also brought a new age of prosperity to the continent. Visiting pilgrims who wish to see the birthplace of the Known World’s longest-reigning Emperor visit the planet. More importantly, perhaps, the boom on Byzantium Secundus and other parts of the Empire has resulted in a new interest for Ravenna’s mineral wealth and skilled stonemasons.
Ravenna marble brings greater wealth to the region than at any time since the Fall and the continent still has the second richest mineral reserves on the planet (next to the barely tapped regions of the Folari North). Ravenna’s citizenry are divided between a rural existence in agrarian communities and a partially technological way of life in its deep core mining cities. Due to its status as a center of politics and major export center, Andyra maintains a large interplanetary spaceport in its capital, Suryada, and also a comprehensive magna-rail train system. This system is widespread in the more populated southern regions; few places are more than a few hours away from each other. The rail system does exist farther north, but only reaches a few destinations.
In the years since Duke Alverax took over from his brother the continent had seen little change, functioning primarily as a wartime economy producing munitions and equipment for the Duke’s personal army. The recent marriage between Duke Alverax and Lady Penelope as already produced an heir and her courtly savvy is seen as a stabilizing influence upon the fiery Duke Alxerax.
Andyra has begun to thrive under their combined stewardship, with the realignment of the general economy away from weapons production towards other industries. The duchess has proved to be driving force for modernization but seeks to balance these ideas with the traditional necessities of the local people. She has already become a very popular figure and her patronage of the local Midwifery Guild has improved the birth rate and survival of both mothers and infants in the Suryada locality.
Suryada: Suryada is a large, orderly city in the south-central portion of Andyra. While the capital has a low technology appearance typical of many Ravenna cities, it has modern aspects. The guards who patrol the street frequently carry advanced firearms and higher-ranking officials have personal shields. There is some motor traffic, though such vehicles are seen less and less as one travels north, where the roads fail. Almost all of the buildings in Suryada are made of quarried stone; the planet’s builders mostly disdain synthetic materials such as maxicrete, and the population destroyed all the Second Republic architecture after the Fall. The most important buildings are made from Ravennan marble of various dazzling patterns and hues. Suryada contains such sites as the royal palace, the planetary agora (the Viceroy) and St. Regoe’s Cathedral, where Bishop Tyrus Hislop oversees services on state occasions. Twenty miles north of the city is the palace where Emperor Alexius I was born, and the site has become a place of pilgrimage for many. There are a number of active guilds in the city, far more than on the planet at large. The spaceport in Suryada is large, opulent and displays a combination of the modern and the traditional.

Deepcore Cities

Deepcore cities are great urban complexes built around deep mining shafts during the Diaspora and Second Republic. Up to five miles in diameter, some are rumored to extend a hundred or more miles into the planet’s interior. Originally built to exploit the planet’s deep mineral wealth, and later to install and service its planetary engines, the cities are largely enigmas. During earlier times, the sprawling underground metropolises supported hundreds of thousands of workers. Grand concourses, shopping and entertainment plazas and spaceship landing pads jutted out hundreds of yards over the yawning precipices. Abandoned and placed under Universal Church interdiction during the early Dark Ages, some of them became active again after the Barbarian Invasions of the 46th century. There are currently 15 active cities. The cities often have unofficial names, but most are known by their pedestrian republican names (i.e., Deepcore 1, 2 and 3, etc.). Muster miners and Scraver archaeologists largely administer them, though House Justinian also lays claim to one of them. This has lead to fierce competition and even some violence between local guilds and the off-world nobles.
Power has been restored (at least partially) to some of these complexes, while in others miners still dig by oil-light. Strict Universal Church and noble edicts ban exploration of the deeper tunnels, for fear of disturbing monsters, planetary engines and exposing the faithful to forbidden technology. The cities are widely seen as cursed; this is not purely superstition. Monstrous subterranean creatures have plagued recent mining operations. Disobedient Muster miners were blamed for the recent surge of earthquake activity on Austram East. After this incident, the Inquisitorial Synod sent confessors to ensure the theological purity of each of the mining operations. For the most part, however, the Universal Church has to do little to dissuade the citizenry from approaching the ancient cities; they avoid the shafts with superstitious dread. Deepcore cities also draw the attention of Eskatonic geomancers who wish to study the planet’s deepest secrets. This has lead to some conflict between the mystics and the Inquisition.

Folari

Since the Fall, Folari has been divided between two great fiefs. House Trusnikron has ruled the northern area since the early period of the Second Republic and has largely function as a preserve for much of the native Ravenna wildlife that survives to this day. The southern area has long been the domain of House Hawkwood.

Folari North

Folari North is highly mountainous, forested and wild, with more species of wildlife than anywhere else on the planet. Some mining activity takes place on the mountainous eastern coast, but there are strict rules governing the Muster’s mining and timbering practices. Although the Muster guild is the largest mining operator and contractor they are by no means the only guild operating in this area. The Prospectors guild and number of local guilds (the Collieryers being the most powerful) vie for lucrative extraction contracts.
The Reeves also have a role maintaining the region’s environmental wealth, and often audit local fiefs to ensure adherence to mining practices and maintenance of environmental statutes. The Universal Church supports Trusnikron rule and fights to keep Merchant League interests to a minimum, favoring local guild activity over the intervention of Interstellar guilds.
The Trusnikron’s hardy subjects live in either stone or timber houses, often with numerous animals. Their Trusnikron lords mostly live in palatial mountaintop aeries, soaring above their subjects on their great urroc steeds. Amongst the Trusnikron are a select group know as Beast Speakers, who display an uncanny ability to communicate with and control the animals with which they work. Far from viewing these Beast Friends with suspicion or fear the local Orthodoxy welcomes them has living in harmony with the beast of the Pancreators bounty. On many other worlds such talents are seen as witchcraft or devilry and actively hunted.
House Hawkwood has often depended on House Trusnikron for their aid in war, their value as couriers and agents cannot be overstated, and they have a reputation for fierce loyalty, and good council. To be a friend of the Trusnikron is to have a steadfast ally.
During the Second Republic there were two Deepcore Cities dug into Folari North, both fell into disuse after the Fall and both the Universal Church and House Trusnikron have fought to prevent the Merchant League reopening their operations. So far the house’s leader, Countess Morgana Solara Trusnikron, has refused all such entreaties.

Folari South

The duchy of Folari South still profits from its remaining mineral wealth, though much of its resources are, after a thousand years of exploitation, finally nearing exhaustion. There are three Deepcore Cities within this domain, two run by the Muster and one run by House Justinian. While some elements cast their eyes to the still mineral-rich Folari North, the region’s ruler Duke Cassius Hawkwood and his predecessors have been content to slowly steer the region’s economy to a more agrarian base.
The domains within Folari South are some of the most technologically backward on Ravenna. When the Universal Church called for a return to a simpler existence Ravenna answered, but Folari South wend further than most, many of the nobles themselves willing reverted to a lower technological base, with many of the agricultural areas reverting voluntarily to a pre-industrial tech level. Even the existing road network has been allowed to fall into disrepair, with riding beasts rather than cars being used by the nobility. The wealthiest nobles can buy trained urrocs from their Trusnikron neighbors in the north, but most peasants and freemen must travel on foot.
The display of high technology here will likely get a person shunned at best or likely stoned for technosophy. Even nobles need to be weary of flaunting their traditional rights where technology is concerned. This is mainly a result of the local Orthodoxy’s strong objections to open technological expansion.
The Scravers guild attempted to muscle in on the mineral extraction operations in both Folari North and South during the turn of the century attempting to usurp control of several local guilds. Duke Cassius, alongside his Trusnikron and Universal Church allies resisted the underhand attempt by the guild to steal control of local resources. In 5002 an assassination attempt against the Duke was foiled, and the resulting investigation pointed a finger at the Scravers as the instigators. The Duke took the unprecedented step of declaring the Scravers blacklisted within his domain, and that anyone professing allegiance to that guild to be considered a criminal and arrested for their affliction.
The Scravers have of course protested this ruling, initially petitioning Duke Alverax to over turn it. After hearing representation from the guild, Alverax endorsed Duke Cassius’s action. The Orthodoxy continues to support the nobility against further encroachments of guild power on the continent. The peasantry here is largely uninterested in politics, but have strong opinions on religion and theology.

Major Islands

In addition to Ravenna’s three main continents, there are also eight notable island territories.

Austram

If there is a tragedy on tranquil Ravenna, it is the war between the two Austram Islands. The island chain has traditionally been a single duchy, but the last ruler, Duke Sigmund Keirkegaard Hawkwood (4933-4998) divided it into two separate counties giving one to his eldest child Countess Cassandra Justinian Hawkwood, and the other to his eldest son Count Otto Kierkegaard Hawkwood. With the provision that it would revert to a full duchy and go to the surviving heir, these half siblings have been locked in a bitter war ever since. To date over 100,000 people have died senselessly in the Austram War.
Initial attempts to bring the warring parties to the negotiation table failed. In 5003 Duke Alverax involved himself in the war by backing Count Otto Kierkegaard and providing military support to the Count’s war machine in the hope of bring about a swift resolution. However, Merchant League and Trusnikron support have been instrumental in maintaining the Countess in her fief.
In 5008 Sir Ambros Kierkegaard, Count Otto’s younger brother attempted to break the deadlock between his siblings by arranging a ceasefire and convincing both to attend a negotiation to resolve the situation. In secret he plotted to murder both his siblings and assume control of the Ducal fief himself. The explosion killed a high proportion of the delegates and injured Count Otto. Countess Cassandra escaped without injury; her security forces captured her errant brother, Sir Ambros Kierkegaard, whom she later turned over to Count Otto as a gift.
Sir Ambros has not been seen since and is believed to be languishing in the Count’s dungeon. Though no formal peace has been negotiated, though a ceasefire has remained in effect with both sides occasionally undertaking small raids and saber ratting naval engagements.

Austram West

Austram West is a hilly country and the richer of the two Austram islands. Heavily forested, much of the habitat is not natural to Ravenna, instead having been transplanted during the transitional years when the planet under went its massive realignment. The resulting ecosphere has finally reached its own internal equilibrium and many of the plant and animal species imported have adapted to fit their new environmental niche. A number of rare species exist that can be found only on this island (including the ocelynx, a nearly extinct giant cat), and the region has a reputation for excellent big game hunting, a pastime that Count Otto is particularly fond of.
A great deal of untapped mineral wealth is believed to lie beneath the craggy mountains that dominate the islands interior. Thought there are several mine workings that produce much needed ores these operations are run by the Barons who’s fiefs they are within, as a result these operations have a poor safety record and lack the expertise of guild run operations. The Muster have made attempts at opening negotiations to exploit the mineral wealth that still lies under the mountains, but so far their delegations have been unable to meet with the Count directly to begin any meaningful discussion. Count Otto is suspicious of the Merchant League since it supported his half sister in the Austram War and instead holds to the council of his Barons and to the local Orthodoxy that preaches against allowing the guilds any greater power than they already possess.
Count Otto rules from his father’s former ducal capital at Kairtop on the island’s east coast. It is a small city nestled deep in a fjord that grants it a safe anchorage and makes it defensible from both land and sea. The origins of the city can be traced back to the mid 46th century when the world fell under the control of the Vuldrok barbarians and some suggest that the ducal fief began as barbarian thanedom. The local Austram dialect certainly contains a number of words that might have Vuldrok roots.
Kairtop: Situated at a head of a long narrow fjord the small city is easily defensible from both land and sea. A pair of great artillery installations atop the cliffs defends the mouth of the 2-mile long fjord over looking the mouth and ceramsteel submarine nets are deployed to prevent any silent incursion. The city docks and harbor line the north and south faces of the steep cliffs while the city itself stands watch high above on the cliff edge. There is a circling outer wall the secure the landward facing side of the city. Most of the buildings are of a sturdy stone build construction; much of the stone having been cut from the cliffs it defends.
The city is traditionally laid out with the most important buildings grouped together and faced in the best local stone. The former ducal palace is a castle by the traditional definition, with a solid fortifying wall built around a keep at the highest vantage point above the cliffs. It is said that on a clear day a lookout can see across the Castillo Straights with the naked eye.

Austram East

Austram East is the northerly of the two Austram isles, and the terrain is much less mountainous and arable, growing a wide variety of crops. The east coast of the island has always been volcanically active with many geysers and hot springs seeping up from the earth, many of which are reputed to have restorative properties. In past decade tectonic activity has increased with three major earthquakes and numerous minor tremors that have caused damage to local settlements and one major tsunami that caused major damage to the eastern coastline of Austram East and across the straights on the western coast of Andyra. The Viewports naval facility on the east coast also suffered considerable damage, though much of the fleet was deployed to patrol the Austram Channel and was available to give aid.
The Countess Cassandra Justinian Hawkwood rules Austram East from the city of Paravel on the west coast of the island. Some three decades ago (during her father’s rule) the Muster were given license to reopen the Deepcore City that sits in the heart of the island. Though the decision was controversial at the time it has proven to be pivotal in supporting the economy of her fief. Guild interests have also supported her fief military, augmenting its otherwise limited capability with seasoned veterans to provide specialist support.
Her close personal relationship with Countess Morgana Trusnikron has also provided much need military assistance. The local Orthodox Church however, distains the Countess’s entertainment of alien dignitaries and sponsorship of the arts. No small amount of scandal is attached to her name, and the Countess has rarely been seen at the Ravenna Count since Duke Alverax provided military assistance to her Brother in the early years of the Austram War.
Paravel: The city has greatly benefited from the rule of Countess Cassandra, through by necessity she has been forced to make investments in military infrastructure and defenses. The lady is a patron of the arts, and Paravel reflects this in its cosmopolitan style, and its vibrant art scene is encouraged by the presence of a public art gallery and theater. The city also has a bohemian alien quarter, most of the aliens are Ur-Oban, though there are a number of other species present in much smaller numbers, including Ur-Ukar, Gannok and Shantor. Note of this would be possible if it were not for the generous tariffs paid by lucrative guild contracts, specifically those of the Muster and Scravers guilds.
The local representatives of the Universal Church have strongly criticized the Countess for her support of alien influences. Although the Countess remains a stanch adherent of Orthodox theology other sects have begun to take hold, only a decade ago the Sanctuary Aeon established a hospice in the city, the Obun Church too has a temple in the alien quarter.

Chul

Chul inhabitants are reputed to be backward, highly insular and suspicious. They live a very simple existence surviving on subsistence agriculture, augmented with fishing and scavenging birds eggs from the rocky crags. They disapprove of even the low level of technology seen on the rest of Ravenna, believing that such items as candles and water wheels are evil.
An enormous volcano dominates the southerly end of the island, though it has been inactive for centuries the massive crater is still full of bubbling hot magma. A local splinter sect of the Universal Church holds the volcano to be sacred and a physical manifestation of the Pancreator’s holy fire.
The Chul’s periodically engage in raiding behavior, often attacking the neighboring island of Kasi, taking supplies, foodstuffs and slaves. In return Kasi’s citizens have made accusations that the Chul are descendants of the barbarian Vuldrok, that they practice Antimony and human sacrifice. An inquisitorial investigation in 5002 found no evidence to support accusations of Antinomy. Nevertheless, visitors to Chul island have been known to disappear.

Kasi

Kasi is a rugged island with high mountains to the northern end, though slightly smaller that the neighboring island of Chul, it a population almost five times greater. A large number of inhabitants are guildsmen, and many of them affiliated with the Muster that has a large-scale operation at Deepcore 12. The Deepcore City was reopened during the early period of the Emperor Wars under contract to provide ores and minerals necessary to support the war effort, since then the population has grown, making it the most populous city on the island by an order of magnitude. Its citizens enjoy a slightly higher level of technology than that found on most of the planet. Many of them have electric lighting, though the Muster keeps a cap on the more extreme technologies in deference to planetary tradition.
In addition to the conflict with its Chul neighbors, Kasi has other problems. Rumors of subterranean horrors lurking in the dark tunnels below the city were once scoffed at as superstition, or tales to frighten children, but the Muster does on occasion lose workers in the cavernous tunnels, often times they simply vanish and are never seen or heard from again. Several exhaustive searches have so far discovered no trace of whatever might be responsible.

Trieste

Trieste is a heavily wooded island and, despite its size, supports one of the planet’s four spaceports because of its willingness to handle technology. The island acts as a center of trade and has a strong Merchant League presence and several well-known agorae. Perhaps most importantly, Trieste is one of the Phoenix Empire’s few sources for luminite, a mineral that is critical for the manufacture of blaster technology. In the past the mineral rights have been leased on a five yearly basis, with bidding encouraged between the Muster and House Justinian, however with the recent change in the islands ownership that pattern has been disrupted with Muster having been granted an indefinite contact by Baron Tarland Trieste Hawkwood, who succeeded his cousin Baroness Morgein Trieste Hawkwood, a noted socialite, after he raised an army and took the fief by force in 5006, executing his cousin for bringing the family name into disrepute and setting a poor moral example to her subjects.
Although the new Baron has not instituted curbs on guild activities as many amongst the local Orthodoxy might have wished he as strengthen the position of the Universal Church and commissioned the construction of a Cathedral dedicated to Saint Leronus, a woman who heard the words of the Prophet in 2799 and organized the first faithful on Ravenna into a greater movement, though the Ravenna Church would later be incorporated into the growing Universal Church of the Celestial Sun established years later by Palamedes Alecto.

Lugano and Locarno

Lugano and Locarno are two relaxed resort islands known for their Urth-like wildlife, breathtaking scenery and rich ocean life in the surrounding clear blue waters and coral reefs. Both islands are major tourist and business attractions for Ravenna citizens and off-worlders alike. Indeed, one is just as likely to run into foreign nobility, League traders (especially Reeves and Engineers) and Ur-Obun scholars here as Hawkwoods and Orthodox clergy. The area has many plush resort hotels and some of the highest concentrations of technology on the planet can be found around the spaceport on Locarno. Both islands are more cosmopolitan than the planet at large, with a combined population exceeding that of every continent except Andyra.

Bredonia

Since the Barbarian Invasions of the 46th century, Bredonia has become a place of retirement for old soldiers who can choose to live in monastic solitude or as instructors at the renowned military college, the Lextius Academy. The academy accepts students from all across the Phoenix Empire, but the majority are scions of House Hawkwood destined for positions of military leadership within the armed forces of the House. Duke Alverax is a generous patron to the college and he often selects from the finest available Hawkwood candidates for his personal star navy.

Barony of Vulflor

The Barony of Vulflor is located on the west coast of the Island of Austram West, and beholden to the Count Otto Kierkegaard Hawkwood. The lord of the domain is the elderly Baron Gareth Montague Hawkwood, and the years of the Austram War have not been kind to him or his family. As a coastal domain the baronies economy is dependant upon fisheries and some agriculture, but the most significant asset within the domain is the Cantrope Naval Station.
Although the terrible Austrum War has finally would down to a state of cold war, each side is ready and poised to strike at a moments notice. Engagements between naval units are still frequent, particularly in the narrow Austram Channel that divides the two islands. Relations with the other barons of Austram West are strained as Baron Gareth feels that he has been abandoned to fight his lords war alone, his considerable naval power and expertise is allowing his allies to shirk their responsibilities in defense of the island realm.
The fief has a strong naval tradition, and many of its freemen and serfs serve in their lord’s navy. Serfs who serve a naval career are often rewarded with their freedom; acts of heroism, or displays of military excellence can accelerate this process. As a result there are few families in the fief who are not in some way tied to the Cantrope Naval Station. The stanch military discipline of the naval tradition overflows into the general population creating a people who respect military authority and those who serve.
The losses of the Austram War have been keenly felt in the Vulfor fief, every family has the suffered lose of loved ones. Baron Gareth Montague is no exception; he has lost three of his four sons in various naval skirmishes over the past decade. The baron has become increasingly bitter in the last few years, and has taken the unprecedented step of forbidding his last son to enter naval serves for fear that he would be lost too and that his barony would pass to another family.
Baron Gareth Montague Hawkwood (born 4939): A man of military bearing, the baron served his time as a naval officer, before the death of his own father passed the family fief into his hands. Although his body in aging and he suffers painful arthritis in his hands, his mind is ever the keener. He can see no clear end to the Austram conflict, and the price of that conflict weighs heavy upon him and his fief. Receiving no dispensation from his liege and having lost three of his four sons in the war to date, he is determined that he will not be the last of his line. Though not a natural when it comes to political schemes the baron can see no other way for him to preserve his family and his fief from the long slow attrition that is claiming it.
Lady Estella Varsolay Hawkwood (born 4976): The baron’s second wife and the mother of his youngest and only surviving son. Lady Estella was a political marriage intended to build stronger bonds between Vulfor and the neighboring Barony of Craigdon. She has little time for war or the military traditions of Vulfor and has actively tried to steer her son away from the military and the navy specifically. Initially this approach earned the ire of her husband, but his attitude changed as his elder sons perished. He now endorses her stance, but it may already be to late to redirect Sir Gilespie without earning his resentment.
Sir Gilespie Montague Hawkwood (born 4994): The young son of Baron Gareth, he has just reached his age of majority, and had intended to enlist to naval service and follow his brothers into battle. His father however has denied him his opportunity for revenge and glory and has taken to sending him on extended ‘missions’ to the courts of various important allies. Sir Gilespie sees this as his father’s way of keeping him from his natural birthright, and a rift is opening between father and son.
Vice Admiral James Goodman (born 4951): The Vice Admiral (the baron holds the title of Admiral) is the commander of the Cantrope Naval Station. He has served with distinction rising through the ranks from his first days as a serf seaman. During his service he has been decorated several times and earned a commission awarded by the baron himself. The Baron considers him his equal in many ways and the pair close friends and allies. The Vice Admiral is privy to the baron’s schemes, and acts as a voice of reason to his lord’s thoughts. If the baron were to give an order that the Vice Admiral were to disagree with he would still follow it unto death. He is a loyal man who will do anything his lord requires of him.
Men-at-arms: Vulfor has a strong martial tradition and the Baron commands a large naval fleet with thousands of serving personnel. The fief does receive a tax dispensation from Count Otto in return for maintaining a standing fighting force. The personnel include naval officers, seamen, marines and various auxiliary support personnel. Naval officers are often drawn from the second sons of the nobility of Austram West, though a sizable number a long serving freemen, some elevated from serfdom.
Cantrope Naval Station also trains its own marines, and many of these are rotated through other duties, including guarding the fief, and providing sentries to the baron’s manor. While on guard duty they are dressed for ceremonial duties, in a smart uniform and armed with a cutlass, a revolver, and often other arms depending on their assignment.
Using Baron Gareth Montague Hawkwood as a Patron: Baron Gareth is tired of war; he fears that he will lose his last son and that his family line will die with him. He has become increasingly disillusioned with the war between Count Otto and Countess Cassandra to the point where he just wants it to end before it claims his last son. His fief pays almost soul upkeep for the navy that now largely protects the island, and his allies do not share the burden equally. Urged on by his young wife, the baron is prepared to end the Astrum War once and for all, by turning traitor and letting a fleet from Austram East through his defensive perimeter. The only problem is, that he needs some one trustworthy to send as an envoy to the Countess, some one who could be deniable.
Using Baron Gareth Montague Hawkwood as an Adversary: Baron Gareth is a traitor; he is conspiring against his rightful liege and playing a dangerous game in the process. Count Otto has become suspicious that the baron is conducting unsanctioned covert operations against Austram East, and is keen to discover exactly what is ‘loyal’ subject is doing. Agents within the Cantrope Naval Station have reported unusually ship movements that seem to be deliberately opening a close holes the naval defense line, perhaps allowing unseen agents to come or go.

The Wildlife of Ravenna

to be done

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Den of the Lion

Another chapter I wrote for the House of the Lion faction book. It is still an unedited work in progress.

DELPHI: Den of the Lion

Bathed in the glow of its yellow-orange sun, from space Delphi appears broken into three horizontal bands. The center is a wide zone of green and ocean blue, capped by great domes of white ice at its two growing polar regions. Concentrated stretches of maxicrete gray and, at night, star cluster patterns of electric light give evidence of the planet’s large and vibrant human population. Spiral cyclone cloud formations corkscrew their way through the planet’s atmosphere, betraying its tempestuous climate. The cradle of House Hawkwood from its earliest days, Delphi has long stood as a powerful nexus of military, mercantile and political power.

Planetary Traits

Star: Helios (yellow-orange star)
System: Chalora (0.28AU), Kosa (0.49AU), Delphi (1.34AU; Miercoles), Cylor (8.54AU; 2 moons), Camden (19.06AU; 27 moons), Rochala (28.07AU), Jumpgate (46.09AU)
Jumps: Tethys, Pentateuch, Ravenna
Capital: Anschok City Region
Resources: stone, precious metals, deuterium
Exports: granite, precious metals, deuterium, politics

History

Delphi has long been at the heart of Interstellar politics, discovered Delphi in 2395 the survey team were quick to realize the potential of the newly discovered world. Rich in much needed resources; Delphi swiftly became the focal point for competing corporate and political claims.
Similar in temperature and biome to Urth, Delphi had a natural draw to those with a colonial spirit and many chose to begin a new life when the frontier word was opened for colonization. As with all new worlds the colonists faced their share of perils, the world had its own indigenous life forms that need to be tamed and virgin wilderness awaiting the footprints of those first pioneers. In time many settlements were established, and a vibrant social and political scene emerged based on values of self-reliance and personal honor, hallmarks of House Hawkwood to this day.

The First Republic

Amongst the second wave of arrivals on Delphi were the Zaibatsu sponsored colonists and mineral extraction teams. Delphi’s capital, at the time little more than a spaceport and a few permanent buildings, used for what little administration the pioneers required, received an influx of new residents, and the frontier town became a burgeoning city in a matter of months. Company towns began sprung up across the face of the planet and the inevitable conflict between the Delphi pioneers and the Zaibatsu incomers began.
The ruling elite of the First Republic sought to bring Delphi and its wealth under corporate control and established a puppet government to rule and through which to extend the laws that would protect their commercial interests, and the interests of their stakeholders on Urth. The bloody revolt that followed took the First Republic by surprise as the pioneer elements of Delphi’s society resisted the harsh and oppressive laws that placed vast swaths of the planet under corporate control. These pioneer elements saw Delphi as a place of freedom unavailable on more developed worlds. Bloodshed severed the planet’s ties with the First Republic when one of the revolutionary leaders, Hans Nodol (2418-2479), stormed the capital city and executed the First Republican Governor (c.2447). The revolutionaries of Delphi understood that the Zaibatsu would not simply let them go free, and civil war erupted between the pioneers and the corporate interests on the planet.
Instead of bringing military force to bear the First Republic sold the world to the Cynostar Corporation expecting it to do the Zaibatsu’s dirty work for them. The CEO of Cynostar was the magnate Gervaise Windsor-Hapsburg, and he had the foresight to see an opportunity where others saw only a protected and expensive war. Gervaise relocated to Delphi, and over the course of a decade much of Cynostar’s assets and personal followed.
Through his clever diplomacy, the revolutionaries and the remaining republican elements became dependent on him as he built his political base. He was soon the planet’s defacto ruler, and pulled the plug on the two warring factions by arresting their leaders. He then made both sides a tempting offer they could not refuse: he allowed both factions a role in the new government while he launched badly needed reforms. Keeping the lion’s share of power among his family and closest confidants, he built a royal legacy. His heirs perpetuated his philosophy of pragmatic idealism long after his death.

The Diaspora

In 2525 Gervaise’s grandson, Robert Hawkwood, formally founded House Hawkwood, solidifying the family’s territorial claims. The house sought alliances with foreign powers and another embryonic royal family, House Justinian. The Justinian House ruled their own planet, Paradise, just a single jump beyond Delphi and formed close links with the early House Hawkwood. Such ties were encouraged, and intermarriage between the two noble lineages was a common enough occurrence.
Delphi itself grew steadily more powerful throughout the Diaspora as House Hawkwood expanded bring first Ravenna under its auspice and later also the worlds of Gwynneth, and Leminkainen. At the time House Hawkwood represented once of the most prominent interstellar dynasties, and Delphi was at the very heart of that rule.
When the Prophet Zebulon first spread his teachings, his philosophies found welcome adherents on Delphi. The world gained even greater status with the Universal Church when many of its sons and daughters valiantly fought and died during the Ukari War. Delphi extended its protection to Velisamil, the Obun homeworld, during this time protecting it from the wave of anti-alien sentiment that was pervasive after the war against the Ukari.
Although the nobility entered a period of decline prior to the foundation of the Second Republic, Delphi remained important to the politics of the Known Worlds and continued to rise in commercial strength by attracting guild investment and collaboration.

The Second Republic

Delphi rose to the pinnacle of Second Republic power as a regional, if not truly galactic, power. Still considered nearly perfect in terms of weather and natural surroundings, Delphi required little of the dubious benefits of the terraforming craze. Its people spurned weather control technology, although many modern Delphians have since come to regret this decision. As a regional power Delphi was a wealthy world, enriched by off-world trade and its citizens enjoyed ever-higher standards of living, the population boomed as many were attracted to the world for its climate or economic opportunities.
The Second Republic invested heavily in the planets infrastructure, and it was during this time that the massive metropolitan city regions were constructed as the urban sprawl of one great city merged with those of its neighbors. The greater part of Delphi’s population was restricted to the city regions, while much of the planet was preserved from over development by its noble Hawkwood owners.
As the Republic crumbled, Delphi was one of the first planets to observe the fading suns phenomenon. The planet’s Urth-like yellow sun turned orange within two generations; instead of growing hotter, however, the planet cooled precipitously as the sun faded. Increased sunspot activity added to the planet’s troubles as violent new weather patterns swept across the world’s surface. Many indigenous life forms perished, and only the artificial removal of species to better climes averted their total extinction.

The New Dark Ages

Despite suffering rampant unemployment and political turmoil, Delphi successfully resisted the mass dissolution of its urban centers that occurred on other planets. Bending to Universal Church mandates just enough to avoid charges of heresy, the Delphian Hawkwood’s nevertheless fell from favor with much of the Orthodox hierarchy. This controversy lasted for centuries before Delphi once again proved its worth by shielding the faithful from the Barbarian Invasions of the 46th century. Delphi, buffered by Leminkainen and Ravenna, remained largely untouched during the early period of the invasions, but the aid it provided to the Hawkwoods of other worlds eventually made it a target of the barbarian. In the end Barbarian forces flooded through the jumpgate, besieged the world and ultimately took control of the system, until it could later be liberated in the crusades that fallowed.
During this time when Delphi, Ravenna, Leminkainen were under the heel of Barbarian occupation, Hawkwood rule temporarily moved to Gwynneth, though the Hawkwood throne was later restored to Delphi in the aftermath of liberation.
As the pieces began to settle after the Barbarian crusades, chaos again struck the Known Worlds as the Emperor Vladimir I was assassinated during his correntation, a succession war immediately broke out between the Ten Royal Houses and during this time the jumpgate to Paradise, the homeworld of House Justinian was closed. That royal line had spent much of its strength in defense of House Alecto and now sheltered under the protection of House Hawkwood. A Hawkwood decree placed much of the Courai continent under the control of the minor house. Though this was perhaps a prudent political maneuver, to secure the greater House Justinian’s loyalty when the Paradise jumpgate eventually reopens, rather than a purely magnanimous gesture. Either way it has placed the depleted Justinian House firmly in the Hawkwood’s camp.

The Emperor Wars

By the 50th century, Delphi was the leading military and diplomatic force behind the Hawkwood bid for the throne during the Emperor Wars. Delphi’s position in the jumpweb ensured its relative safety from the attacks of its rivals. At the time much of the Hawkwood space power was based at Delphi, many considering it safe harbor, where warships could be refitted, repaired, and prepared to make strikes against the House’s enemies. This attitude changed in 4977 when a Li Halan fleet made a lightning raid against the assembled Hawkwood Fleet lying in anchorage in Delphi’s orbit. This battle took the House unprepared and resulted in destruction of the fleets command ship and the deaths of both Prince Darius and Duke Utar.
It is a credit to the resolve of the Delphian people that although the Hawkwood House has suffered a decapitation, they rallied swiftly to the call and military excellence of Alverax Hawkwood, without the solid backing of Delphi’s military resources the House’s Imperial ambitions would have ended there.
Delphi has only benefited from Alexius I’s rise to power, and it remains the Ravenna-born Emperor’s most solid base of support. Many of the Delphi Hawkwoods are stanch supporters of the Emperor, and the rising number of anti-Alexius sentiments come largely from those branches of the family on the other Hawkwood homeworlds. Since Alexius I’s ascendancy, Delphi has gained greater influence on Tethys and Byzantium Secundus than ever before.

Solar System

Helios:
Chalora: Chalora is a medium-sized, rocky planet with a slow axial spin (rotational cycle is three Urth months). Before Helios began to suffer the fading suns phenomena the dayside of Chalora was molten, while the night side was frozen, giving the world its characteristic melted wax appearance. In modern times the dayside temperature no longer rises to that of blast kiln, though the surface is still blisteringly hot. The temperature at the terminator between the day and night sides is survivable, but without other life support this fact is of little consequence.
A recent mineral assay conducted by the Prospectors Guild as discovered traces of several valuable elements in Chalora’s mantle but not in sufficient quantities to make the expense of an extraction operation viable at this time. Small time prospectors can still make a reasonable living by working small mineral claims on the planets equator where the long rotation gives them sufficient to work a claim for a few months before returning to Delphi with a hold full of ores.
Kosa: Kosa is a small rocky planet, formerly rich in precious metals though most of these claims were strip mined during the early Second Republic era, leaving on those minerals deeper in the crust or at trace levels that were not economically viable to exploit. The only remaining operational claim is Cetus-12 a joint House Justinian / Charioteer mining concern which ekes out a tenuous existence under an archaic environmental dome.
A recent discover that may prove to be far more valuable than the mining claim is that of the wreckage of ancient warship (assumed to be Second Republican), that House Justinian have just laid claim too. A full salvage operation would be expensive and likely fruitless but Baron Constantine Justinian (the owner of Cetus-12) are said to have engaged the Scravers Guild to pick over the bones of the wreck for a share of whatever can be discovered.
Delphi: Delphi is the system’s third major satellite and the only planet with a life-sustaining atmosphere. Delphi’s moon, Miercoles, is roughly 1/5th Delphi’s mass and houses a significant number of Hawkwood military installations, including a deep space listening station and a number of dry docks used of the repair of military vessels. Miercoles is off-limits to unofficial personnel.
Cylor: Cylor is a large rocky world with strong volcanically activity, driven by the gravitational pull of its two large moons (Iska and Asema). The volcanic activity casts the planet in a thick atmosphere of chocking dust and toxic chemicals. The surface is rarely visible from orbit but the molten glow of the largest volcanoes illuminates the dust clouds from the underside and can be quite beautiful to behold.
The Charioteers consider the planet to be a navigational hazard, with strong gravitational forces, but the Hawkwood Fleet frequently use it as an obstacle during fleet war games. If some rumors are to be given credence, certain Special Forces units also receive training on Cylors surface, though there is no record of their being any permanent military facility on the world.
Camden: Camden is an enormous gas giant world of swirling blue and purple gases. It has a train of 27 natural satellites, the largest of which are Mira, a world almost twice the size of Delphi. Though all the satellites are barren rock. Ancient records exist from the early Diaspora showing that many of these moons were populated by small numbers of colonists, though what became of them is now lost to history. There is no evidence of anyone living on them during the present era.
Rochala: Rochala is a small frozen rock in space; the surface is coated with various common gases, which are super chilled into sold formations. A rise of a few degrees in temperature is enough to cause these gases to explosively ablate. The planetoid served as a Hawkwood listening post for many centuries before it was abandoned during the Emperor Wars amid claims of madness and murder (c.4977). Suspicion has since fallen on House Li Halan, who shortly after the outpost was abandoned launched the devastating attack that crippled much of the Hawkwood Fleet and claimed the life of Duke Darius Hawkwood. The installation has now been brought back into service, though crews are frequently rotated to prevent any repeat of past problems.

People and Places

Despite the world’s tempest-tossed nature, many on Delphi remain bold, industrious and strangely optimistic lot. Tested by the elements, there is little the planet’s citizenry—from the highest lord to the lowest serf—feel that they have not seen or cannot handle. Largely urban and sophisticated, Delphi’s populace is highly educated; even the remotest villages receive the latest news through the planet’s excellent network of town criers.
Delphi’s main landmass is the Virigo super-continent, divided along two political boundaries: Virigo Major and Virigo Minor. Together with Courai (separated from Virigo by a thin expanse of water), this continental grouping constitutes 80% of Delphi’s landmass. The remainder is in its two polar continents, Frisia and Davros.
The head of House Hawkwood, Princess Victoria Hawkwood, holds court from the Anschok City Region, and rules Delphi with an iron will. Beneath her sit five Dukedoms, three on the Virigo Major, Duke Richard Hawkwood, Duchess Lidia Windsor Hawkwood, Duchess Miranda Hawkwood, and Duke Montgomery Hawkwood who rules Virigo Minor. The fifth is the continental dukedom of Frisia ruled by Duchess Leda Hawkwood. There are also two major counties, that of Courai, ruled by Countess Chirona Hawkwood, and that of Davros ruled by Count Rogan Tiberius Hawkwood.

Virigo Major

From space Virigo Major appears as a great expanse of green, crisscrossed with maxicrete gray and segmented into geometric patterns of farmland. The continent’s biome ranges from deciduous forests and tall prairie grasses at the equator to evergreen forests, alpine tundra and boreal forests. Strong winds blow across the continent. Although noble properties and free farms evenly populate Virigo Major, the majority of the continent’s population resides in its three major urban regions. Tying the continent together is one of the best-maintained road systems in the Phoenix Empire; with the planet’s burgeoning economy, motorized vehicles are again as common as horses and brute carts, though such vehicles are the privilege of the wealthy.
Princess Victoria rules over a system of lesser nobles, Universal Church leaders and Merchant League interests form a tightly organized governing system that oversees the continent’s domestic affairs. This system has been in place since the Fall and has served the kingdom well, making Virigo Major one of the wealthiest and most stable regions in the Phoenix Empire.
Virigo Major has three major urban areas that sprawl in parallel bands across the continent’s northern, equatorial and southern expanses. These super cities consist of either uninterrupted urban areas that stretch on for literally hundreds of miles, or of large individual cities linked by smaller cities, towns and hamlets. Virigo Major’s urban regions exhibit the highest degree of technology among the common citizenry on any Hawkwood world (even some serfs enjoy running water and electric lighting).
The Kago City Region: The Kago region hugs the continent’s mountainous northern coast along the Bering Sea. Largely consisting of older individual cities, Kago is a confusing tangle of twisting highways, architectural styles, massive shantytowns and heavy industry. “Stacks,” similar to those found on Byzantium Secundus cover much of the region. These structures are multi-tiered lattices of steel and maxicrete, supporting systems of roads and buildings. They have an anthill quality and allow several layers of teeming humanity to live above each other in mountainous regions where land is at a premium. The Kago shipyards build most of the planet’s seagoing merchant vessels, despite the fact that its ports are often frozen three-quarters of the year. Massive ice-cutting ships are capable of clearing channels for oceanic traffic, but icebergs are a constant threat that every captain must be vigilant of.
The city also hosts a number of other industries, including: refineries, mining in the southern hard-rock regions, and a small automobile industry. Following the Doctrine of Universal Inheritance, Kago began a slow transition to fossil fuels to show its willingness to convert to more primitive forms of technology. Now mostly dependent on the dwindling hydrocarbon resource, Kago suffers from energy shortages and is the most polluted city in Hawkwood space. Scravers, Muster and numerous minor industrial guilds are powerful in this region, employing millions of citizens. Thousands of homeless children wander the slums. Some are pitiful beggars while others form gangs, attacking strangers with clubs, knives and even firearms. Even the house militia cannot put a stop to the murder and mayhem that sometimes ensues here.
Kago was the first Delphian settlement and is rich in colorful urban legend. It is said that when the Disciple Hombor the Beggar visited the region (already a large city during the Diaspora), he heard about two demonesses who disguised themselves as priests, waylaying and eating passing pilgrims. The demonesses invited the disciple to their lair and, after feeding him a meal of goat and millirice, devoured him. Filled with the spirit of the Pancreator, however, the Disciple reformed in their stomachs. Bursting forth from his fleshy cage, he freed the region from their curse. While this story is not codified in the Omega Gospels, it remains a powerful legend in the Kago region. One of the greatest temples to Hombor exists in Kago and is staffed by Amalthean clergy who attend the poor.
The Anschok City Region: The planet’s showcase city, Anschok is also the continent’s capital and houses such sites as the Domaldo Cathedral and Princess Victoria’s palace. Built as two nearly contiguous urban regions during the Diaspora and Second Republic, Anschok spans almost the entire continent. Architecturally, the city remains a fine example of both Hawkwood and Second Republican architecture. Ancient and delicate looking terracite structures have survived a millennium since the Fall, mingling with modern glasteel guild towers, marble palaces and more modest maxicrete and brick structures. Taking advantage of its title as the “windy city,” Anschok has harnessed wind power to supply its energy needs; vast fields of steel turbines dot the cityscape, imbuing the city with a thrumming heartbeat.
Anschok is a center of learning and commerce. Great Universal Church universities, sprawling urban agorae, metropolitan museums and theaters educate and entertain the populace, giving the region one of the best educated populations in the Phoenix Empire. The city is also a popular backdrop for novels and has a vibrant magic lantern industry. The Muster and Reeves maintain power as the city’s lords of finance.
Situated along the planet’s equator, Anschok is also the warmest region on the planet. Summer temperatures here sometimes reach 80° F (27° C), luring pilgrims from around the globe to bask in its equatorial warmth. Especially popular are the Mediro beach resorts, which have garnered a reputation as retreats for the super-rich and havens for sin. There is a strong Charioteer contingent around the city’s busy spaceport and many of the lesser guilds, such as the Courtesans, also ply their trade here.
Famous citizens include the like of Dean Ebinezer Mek of the Reeves. Quite possibly the richest man in Hawkwood space, Dean Mek has been the chief accountant of the planet’s agora for the past 105 years. He is widely credited with much of the planet’s financial prosperity. On the other hand, his critics accuse him of deliberately stifling economic growth in some regions to benefit others.
The Shiro City Region: Shiro is a thriving southern coastal city. Nestled along steep mountains and narrow fjords, the city region has developed a reputation for producing precision technology, including telecommunications, medical tech and components for the Tethys space industry; the region hosts numerous Engineers and lesser technological guilds. Despite this penchant for science, superstition runs rampant in the region’s mist-shrouded valleys—often with good reason. Ice Wyrms and packs of wild Davros wolf-cats pick off citizens from outlying rural areas.
Rumors of psychic covens operating in the area not withstanding, the isolation in valleys and wild places has been known to affect people’s minds in strange ways, sometimes driving serfs inexplicably mad during the long winter season. These victims may stew for months, becoming more and more psychotic, before finally snapping and going on a mad killing spree. Often known by their red, blood-limned eyes, these victims quickly die of internal hemorrhaging—if they are not killed first. Of course, in this land of cold and snow, there are other reasons a person’s eyes may become red. Orthodox Penitents and even the Imperial Eye have investigated the so-called “Scarlet Sclera” killings with little luck.

Virigo Minor

Virigo Minor constitutes the southeastern third of the Virigo super-continent. Poorer and less technologically advanced than Virigo Major, long simmering social tensions are boiling to the surface in the form of bloody riots in some areas, while other regions have the peace and serenity most often attributed to Hawkwood lands. The area’s ruler, Duke Montgomery Hawkwood, took the ducal throne upon the death of his father just over a decade ago (4999) and has since spent much of his time purging the corruption in his own court.  The rampant corruption and self-interest that plagued his fathers court has been largely removed, but at a cost. A decade spent dealing with the immediate problems at home has allowed the problems of his fief to get out of control.
The Duke faces daily unrest in the Nacado Holy-State: food riots, rising crime and ongoing conflict between the Universal Church and Merchant League. The guilds want to modernize while the Orthodox dominated Universal Church wants to maintain the region’s pastoral traditions. Both Church and the League have come to open blows, with zealots and muster troops clashing over control of various city blocks. The Universal Church lead fanatics have burned warehouses and sabotaged factories; in retaliation the guild has stirred up a fury of hate by raiding treasuries of various bishoprics to “arrest compensation for damages”. Some areas of the city region now resemble a warzone.
Local lords have been slow to act dependant as they are on guild technology and beholden to the Orthodoxy for spiritual guidance, they find themselves faced with demands for assistance from both sides. Duke Montgomery has recently sought a ceasefire arrangement to allow formal talks between the factions to meet. So far such meetings have degenerated to insults and accusations.
Virigo Minor has two major urban areas: the Doloria region on the Northwestern Mediro coast and the explosive Nacado Holy-State to the south. Possessing a lower level of technology than Virigo Major, Virigo Minor’s urban regions are more traditional in their definition of Technosophy (the sin of technology adulation).
The Doloria Region: Doloria is a tranquil and relaxed urban setting, and serves as a welcome respite for those trying to escape Anschok’s technological glitter and fast pace of life. Largely devoid of Second Republic architecture, Doloria exhibits a large collection of post-Fall Universal Church and Hawkwood architecture, mostly constructed of local granite and wood. The city’s ruler, Countess Colette Hawkwood, is a devoted supporter of the Universal Church, and the Orthodox Sect specifically. The city’s hundreds of chapels, cathedrals and parish churches bare testimony to centuries of such ardent patronage. Largely serene, the city nevertheless serves as the planet’s true center of theological debate, even though the main cathedral is in Anschok. When bishopric councils become stuck in their debates, little focuses their minds more than the natural serenity of Doloria’s churches and hundreds of scenic lakes. The region also supports several House Justinian run mines, extracting gold and other precious metals.
Doloria is home to Archbishop Lyander. The archbishop is the Delphian Metropolitan, and is thus responsible for the spiritual welfare of all four Hawkwood planets. A traditional middle-path Hinayana theologian with some reform leanings, the archbishop hopes to succeed Hezekiah the Elder to the patriarchal dais on Holy Terra when the ancient patriarch dies. Competing for the Syneculla’s favor against other candidates such as Marcion Li Halan of Kish and Jordano of the Aragon Metropilae, Lyander’s theological position has become increasingly conservative in recent years. This has greatly impacted recent clerical appointments throughout the Hawkwood worlds.
The Nacado Holy-State: House Hawkwood gave the Nacado region to the Orthodoxy in 4120 as a sign of its faith. The Orthodoxy governed the region as an autonomous city-state, while the house took responsibility for its external security. Nacado swiftly threw off the remnants of Second Republic technology and many in its urban regions returned to an agrarian existence. This arrangement worked well for centuries but, as the fading suns phenomenon intensified and the planet grew colder, food shortages became a major problem. Now dependent on food shipments from elsewhere, Nacado faces increasing urban dissent. Openly demonstrating for both food and a softening of the restrictive Technosophy laws, urban dwellers find themselves at odds with the Universal Church and rural citizens who largely wish to retain more traditional values. The region’s presiding theological authority, Bishop Vereen, is a man of good conscience and works to balance these competing desires, but has recently had to call on House Hawkwood to assist with restoring order.

Courai

Courai was once part of the Virigo continent, but slow tectonic drift and sudden earthquakes have recently (geologically speaking) separated the two landmasses. Earthquakes and volcanism are still intense in both south and east Courai; a dark smoky pall often hangs over the river between the two continents. Underwater volcanoes are also common, making the narrow Courai straits almost impossible to navigate by sea. By ancient treaty, Courai is the partial domain of House Justinian. House Hawkwood awarded these fiefdoms to House Justinian when the jumpgate to Paradise was lost (c.4515), and the region has been semi-autonomous ever since. Countess Chirona Hawkwood presides over the continent as a whole, but House Justinian nobility rules all the fiefs within her domain. Until recently a ruling triumvirate consisting of Count Udoro Justinian, Bishop Megnasi and Dean Mozak of the Muster administered all internal affairs, leaving Countess Chirona to mediate between the interests of the triumvirate and deal with foreign interest.
This arrangement has recently crumbled due to the growing personal animosity between the triumvirate’s members, specifically between Count Udoro and Dean Mozak who became increasingly competitive over control of local mineral extraction rights. The appointment of conservative Bishop Megnasi in 5003 only exacerbated the issue when Count Udoro converted to the Urth Orthodoxy from Eurygnostic tradition. The Count has further been an enthusiastic patron of the Universal Church ever since his conversion in 5004. Effectively isolating the radical Dean Mozak. In 5007 the Bishop Magnasi convinced a planetary synod to issue Inquisitorial Seals to examine the accusations of Technosophy by Dean Mozak and his affiliates. The situation has only degenerated further with the complete collapse of the quasi-Republican triumvirate council and many of the guilds interests being fortified, having been attacked by mobs.
In 5009 the planetary synod convened to hear evidence brought before it by Inquisitor Ras Eddman concerning questionable guild practices. Dean Mozak, an open supporter of Third Republican ideals is in hiding and has refused to attend a summons to answer charges before an Ecclesiastical Court. The Muster’s fall from grace has not gone unnoticed or unanswered by the Merchant League and the Reeves Guild has served writs calling in the debts of many Justinian lords in addition to claims for compensation for lost earnings by the Muster against the bishopric and against the Delphi See for failing to intervene.
Veet: Veet is the planet’s largest mining and refinery center, exporting quarried granite, deuterium and precious metals to almost a dozen worlds. Or at least it was, the troubles between the Merchant League, Universal Church and House Justinian has effectively closed down production as Justinian militias and Muster forces have clashed openly in streets and many of the great factory complexes have sustained damage during the last few years. Though the Universal Church openly supports House Justinian’s claims they have not been able to dislodge entrenched guild support. There are rumors that the Merchant League is running an extensive smuggling operation exporting precious ores through an underground railway while bringing in shipments of millrice and other foods with which to bolster popular support amongst the city regions poor.
The League has gone so far as to accuse the Universal Church of political motivation in their recent support of House Justinian and have called for both Bishop Magnasi and Archbishop Lyander to step down from their posts. Inquisitorial Seals issued by the planetary synod have focused on accusations of Technosphy and a number of prominent guildsmen most notably from the Supreme Order of Engineers have recently been cleansed by flame after accusations of soul-death were made against them. Other League guilds are becoming increasingly involved in what was initially a mineral rights dispute between House Justinian and the Muster.

Frisia

As rugged and individualistic as its ruler, Duchess Leda Hawkwood, this northern polar continent has the highest percentage of yeomen and guilders in Hawkwood space. These settlers hew a rough living from the region’s remaining mines and the icy tundra. Frisia also attracts a wide array of fringe religious sects, accepting groups that might be tried for heresy in more conservative climes. Large numbers of hesychasts, Eurygnostic Incarnates from Gwynneth and even occasional wandering Children of Zuran find their way here. Rumors of Second Republic technological caches attract the occasional fortune hunter, although such finds are few and far between. The majority of the region’s citizens toil a subsistence living through fishing or trapping. The region’s most valuable (and dangerous) big game is the Frisian Ice Wyrm.
Simultaneously the most powerful hunters and the most hunted creatures on Delphi, Frisian Ice Wyrms are large reptilian wyrms that live in the polar wastes of Frisia and Davros. Large, graceful and utterly deadly, the Frisian Ice Wyrm is a slender reptilian creature perfectly adapted to the planet’s polar wastes. Wyrms as large as 45 feet long are not unknown. Their crocodilian heads are tapered into snouts filled with long black teeth and their eyes hint at a frightening animal cunning. Colors vary, but most of the Frisian varieties have glistening steely-blue scales that heat up red due to a poorly understood biological process. They use this strange ability to melt their way through the arctic ice and sometimes for self-defense. During the Second Republic, massive sonic projectors and maxicrete walls limited the creatures to preserves where they became a major tourist attraction and a potent planetary symbol. As the Second Republic crumbled, however, so too did these technological defenses. Now, though the creatures’ numbers have never reached their pre-colonial highs, their population is on the rise. Local religious traditions hold that they are holy, and forbid non-nobles from hunting them. Nevertheless, hunters have come from a many planets to test their skills against this awesome predator.

Davros

Davros is the planet’s southern polar continent; one may either walk or sail there from Virigo, depending on the season. During the winter, the surrounding Sildera Sea is frozen; even during the short summer months the pack ice hinders all but the hardiest vessels. Many make the trip between the two continents in sail-powered ice skimmers. Davros itself is a stark, beautiful land of ice-covered peaks and glacial valleys. During the Second Republic, a wealthy tourism consortium installed great solar lenses on steel and maxicrete pylons, importing foreign flora and fauna to create areas of tropical splendor in the wasteland. In the ensuing centuries many of these have crumbled, but some have been maintained by local entertainment guilds. Even with the fading sun, these lenses are still capable of creating areas of greenery (albeit no longer tropical). The region also boasts hot springs with reputed healing capabilities that have never failed to attract important personages from all political affiliations. The region is a long-standing winter resort with excellent skiing, skating, hunting and other activities.
While the people are mostly at peace, the region’s great wealth and penchant for attracting the rich and powerful have also attracted various criminals. Over the centuries, the region has played host to high-profile assassinations, skilled jewel thieves, and more common crimes such as muggings and pick pocketing. Other dangers include a golden variation of the Frisian Ice Wyrm, landslides, freak blizzards and other natural hazards.
The region’s ruler, Count Rogan Tiberius Hawkwood, is a colorful, populist leader. With a penchant for mechanical marvels that exceeds even the most non-traditional definition of Technosophy.

Barony of Koluse

Located in the southern foothills of the Kago Mountains, Koluse is fortunate to benefit from temperate mid-latitudes of Delphi’s weather systems. Effectively isolated from the Kago City Region by the high Kago Mountain range that straddles much of northern Virigo Major. Koluse is a rural estate typical of many others in the region, though a regent, Sir Horatio Hinterman, who holds the fief in trust until his ward Isobella Windsor Hawkwood comes of age, currently rules it.
The fief incorporates a small body of land, with three serf villages, a small market town, and a large estate; it also has a small mining concern, though of late a spate of accidents and poor yield has brought its ore extraction operations to a close. The peasantry are generally well disposed toward Sir Horatio and his administration, he is seen a tough, but fair master. A stark contrast the former Baron and Baroness who were seen as little more than tyrants. Relations with neighboring fiefs have degenerated recently, as many of the other Barons look down on the “groundskeeper”, as Sir Horatio is known.
Koluse is a pastoral existence, with good farmland for growing both millrice and other staples. The fiefs serfs also raise livestock and animal husbandry is a prized skill for which a serf may receive recognition at one of the number of summer fĂȘtes or harvest fairs. The now abandoned mine workings still play host to a small shanty town above ground and Sir Horatio has attempted to move the serfs from mining, to subsistence hill farming and quarrying. There is only a single Orthodox chapel located in the market town of Eastlow, though it was destroyed by fire only five years ago. Services are now conducted in makeshift accommodations but are attended by high and low folk alike. A new chapel is under construction, funded by the Barony and making use of the locally quarried stone. The grand ideas of the master architect have led to others dubbing the construction as the Cathedral of Eastlow.
The recent line of Hawkwood Barons to own the fief has not been sympathetic to the needs of the people. Conditions were poor and during the Emperor Wars conscription stripped the land of many able bodied men. Those who returned often did so either physically or mentally scared by their experiences. Baron James Windsor Hawkwood and his bride, both served during the Emperor Wars and many remarked them as heroes, though their return home was little cause for celebration, they had seen so much suffering that they cared little for the suffering of common people, and continued to demand the high war taxes long after the conflict has ended. The pair both died under mysterious circumstances during the fire that destroyed the Eastlow Chapel in 5005. Their seneschal Sir Horatio Hinterman immediately stepped up to take over the fief in the name of their only daughter Isobella.
Sir Horatio Hinterman (born 4961): Sir Horatio began his life as a freeman within the Koluse Barony. In his youth he dreamed of life as a hero, and stole away to join the call to arms in the aftermath of the Prince Darius’s death. He distinguished himself in service to the Hawkwood House and later became a military advisor to Duke Alverax. He was knighted 4993 for his service to the Emperor, but chose to return home to Eastlow in 5004. He was disgusted by what he discovered when he arrived and within months confronted the Baron about conditions within the fief. On a fateful night in 5005, he was present at a meeting on the neutral ground of the Eastlow Chapel, when a disagreement with the Baron sparked a fight, in the resulting chaos the chapel burned to the ground claiming the lives of both the Baron and his wife. No one knows that Horatio set the fire deliberately to cover his crime, and has since set out to make Koluse a better place, his way of atoning for what he did.
Isobella Windsor Hawkwood (born 5000): Isobella barely remembers her parents, and patron Sir Horatio has refused to speak about what happened on the night they died. Though he has sworn to tell her the full truth once she is reaches her majority. Little does she suspect that the man who murdered her parents is sheltering her. Sir Horatio has little experience of the raising children and so instead has entrusted much of this to the servants of the household, though he does indulge her, by allowing her to frequently accompany him on fief business to Eastlow.
Bishop Desmond Carbus (born 4921): An ancient an wizened old priest, who has served in the parish for as long as anyone can remember. The Chapel fire that destroyed his place of worship devastated him and he slipped into a dark malaise that rested upon him for several years. Since the arrival of the Master Architect, and Sir Horatio’s commitment to fund the rebuilding project he has started to see the light again, though he often has bad days, when his depression confines him to his bed. The people of Eastlow look kindly upon the old man, though many believe that his days must be numbered now.
Master Architect Sig Rossengren (born 4982): A guild educated master architect, Sig is a driven young man who sees an opportunity to make a name for himself having been given free reign to rebuild the Eastlow Chapel. With an essentially open coffer to draw from his plans are ambitious, but hampered by the lack of heavy construction equipment. Obtaining building supplies has proved to be more troublesome than he had anticipated, mostly caused by other lords in neighboring fiefs adding their own transport taxes to his already considerable bills, some shipments have disappeared altogether.
Men-at-arms: The fief had a standing militia of 23 men under arms. These men were poorly equipped but had varying degrees of experience, some having served during the Emperor Wars. They have access to a range of weapons from locally produced black powder weapons to a few hunting rifles. Critically they have access to the baron’s stables and up to six of them can be mounted to function as messengers or road wardens, protecting the shipments going to the Eastlow Chapel.
Using Sir Horatio Hinterman as a Patron: Sir Horatio is a man who has a stain of sin upon him, and one that he is trying to atone for. He could engage the services of the cadre for any number of reasons from protecting his ward, to escorting vital shipments for the Chapel rebuilding. He might also use the cadre to negotiate with or intimidate his local rivals who are making his position and projects difficult.
Using Sir Horatio Hinterman as an Adversary: A distant relative of former Baron might employ the cadre, and one who questions the actual circumstances of Sir Horatio’s assent as fief regent. His immediate neighbors also take a dim view of the up start knight, his status as an Imperial Knight has prevented a full scale hostility from the surrounding fiefs but many are suspicious of him and his motives.

March of Soundak

The March (sometimes Marquisate) of Soundak is a lonely place, a small island just off the coast of Frisia in the Bering Sea, and well within the domain of Delphi’s arctic circle. During the coldest months of the year the island is joined to the mainland by a frozen stretch of sea only a few miles wide. Ruled over by the ancient Marquis Harold de Walt Hawkwood a man who keeps his true lifespan a closely guarded secret.
Much like the rest of Frisia, the March is populated by strong independently minded peoples, during the short summer months their economy is one of fishing and hunting, building up stores for the long cold winter and the freezing ice storms that rage in from the Bering Sea. Relations within the outside world are sporadic, the Margrave himself has not left his fief in living memory and so long has he pays his dues to the Duchess Leda Hawkwood, no one asks questions about his self imposed isolation.
There is only a single major settlement on Soundak, though during the summer months the serfs and freeman leave the protection of Winterhold to move to a few scattered villages close to the coast from where they can await the breakup of the icepack to hunt and fish amongst the treacherous ice flows. Winterhold itself is a pre-Second Republican science station that was dug in deep to protect it from the harsh environment and much of it is underground. The surface does feature some storehouses and small dwellings but these are used only during the summer. Below ground the small city is heated by geothermal power, and many high tech conveniences can be found in use, including volt lighting, telecommunications, and even grid linked think machines.
The fief has been in the hands of the De Walt family since the mid-Diaspora, then a minor House, it intermarried with the powerful House Hawkwood, eventually being absorbed by its Royal supporter. Initially built as a geothermal research station the subsurface structure as been steadily expanded over the centuries to house a much larger population and during the harsh winters the bulk of the fiefs population shelters below ground. The fief does have strong links with the Supreme Order of Engineers, and the Academy Interatta on Leagueheim places a small number of apprentices here every year to study geothermal technologies.
Margrave (Marquis) Harold de Walt Hawkwood (born 4853): The elderly master of Soundak, is almost never seen in public, and hasn’t travelled beyond the confines of Winterhold in over a century. His business interest beyond his fief are entrusted to close family members of the de Walt line, and frequently make representation on the marquis’s behalf to both the court of Duchess Leda, Princess Victoria, and to the Merchant League. Over the years there has been speculation in various courts that Marquis de Walt may not even be a real person or may be a succession of people using the same identity.
Na-Margrave Simon de Walt Hawkwood (born 4983): The title of na-margrave is traditionally given to the heir apparent of the fief, in this case Simon de Walt who is believed to be the “old man of Winterholds” great great great great grandson and is the chief representative beyond the limits of the fief, he is frequently off-world on missions to Leagueheim and Byzantium Secundus.
Lord Peter de Walt Hawkwood (born 4978): Also the great great great great grandson of the ancient Margrave, and Simon’s cousin. Sir Peter’s aptitudes have always been more martial than diplomatic. He is the current commander of the fief men-at-arms, and is a skilled hunter and survivalist in arctic terrain. Believed lost in a hunting expedition in the late summer of 5006, he was able to survive the harsh winter alongside several of his men to make a triumphant return to Winterhold when the weather broke in the spring of 5007. Sir Peter often remarks that, “all one needs to survive is a sturdy blade, and a bit of luck.” He wears a suit of silvery blue scales reputed to be from a Frisian Ice Wyrm that he killed during his winter abroad.
Bishop Sigmund Gran (born 4967): The long standing Bishop of Soundak, Sigmund presents himself as a typical member of the Urth Orthodoxy, but he is not. In truth he belongs to the heretical Preceptors sect and has long hidden his true allegiance from his masters within the Universal Church. After many years of passing beneath the notice of his superiors, Bishop Gran has been issued with a novitiate in his parish, and Sigmund fears that when the young priest arrives (he is expected to arrive with the summer trade caravans) that his true allegiance might be exposed and endanger everything his sect as worked hard to build.
Entered Ishin Nagoma (born 4987): Originally from Kish, he appears to be a man with subtle Asian features. Unlike the archetypical engineer, Ishin has no visible cybernetic implants though he does wear a pristine lab coat and carry a think machine at all times. He is an expert in geothermal technology and arrived on Delphi 3 years ago as part of a placement from the Academy Interatta, but chose to take up a permanent post at Winterhold rather than return.
Men-at-arms: The Margrave has a surprising large number of men that can be called on in times of trouble, most however are not standing soldiers, but the skilled peasant hunters upon whom the survival of the fief depends. There are only 7 professional soldiers, and 14 militia that serve primarily as constabulary during the long winter months. The professional soldiers are well trained, and capable of conducting special operations in arctic terrain and across frozen or iceberg ridden watercourses. All are issued with modern Imperial rifles, but many also carry traditional hunting weapons as well.
Using Margrave Harold de Walt Hawkwood as a Patron: The Margrave is likely never to be seen in person, instead his business will be relayed through either Sir Peter if it concerns the defense of his realm or Na-Margrave Simon if it concerns matters of the larger world. Winterhold is not a place that encourages visitors. It does on occasion experience problems that can only dealt with by bringing in outside expertise. Winterhold was once capable of exporting its generated power through a satellite based transition uplink system. The Margrave is interested in restoring this capability, perhaps using a ground-based conduit system to export energy to Frisia and across the Bering Sea to the Kago City Region. This would be a major undertaking and one on which the Universal Church would likely frown. However he does need people to survey the territory and protect the pipeline workers from the various natural threats that Frisia has to offer.
Using Margrave Harold de Walt Hawkwood as an Adversary: The Margrave is much more likely to turn up as an adversary of circumstance. Perhaps the characters are forced to take refuge at Winterhold, because of a savage unseasonable ice storm; the conditions in Winterhold are very different from a typical fief, a high proportion of freemen, a good level of educations, and access to some technologies that would be considered questionable in the eyes of the Orthodoxy. Those who see too much will be encouraged to stay… permanently. Any attempt to escape will involve crossing treacherous terrain in severe weather, while being tracked by Sir Peter and his men. Soundak is a harsh mistress, even during the summer months, when the waterways are open to traffic, but also ice flows, and roving Ice Wyrms.

Barony of Clairborn

The Barony of Clairborn is a district of the besieged Veet City Region. Located in the far north of the region Clairborn is a cold damp environment close to Delphi’s arctic circle. Ruled by the Baron Uthar Justinian who has been caught up with the local unrest between the Muster, the Universal Church and his House. A family tragedy robbed him of his beloved wife and left him with a young daughter to care for, forcing him to reconsider his involvement with various schemes.
Clairborn was once one of the wealthiest districts of the Veet City Region, commanding excellent trade relations with its neighboring fiefs on whom it was mutually dependant for its prosperity. These relations have become strained in the last few years the as the strife between House Justinian and the Muster has reached new depths. The involvement of the Universal Church, even in support of Justinian claims, has only made the matter worse. Many of the ore mines and mineral extraction operations once run by the Muster have either been shutdown or are now under new (less effective) management and corruption has only filled the pockets of piety officials.
The Clairborn district is dependant on trade in refined ores to sustain its economic prosperity. Much of the district is given over to warehouses in which processed ores smelted in the neighboring fiefs can be stored and prepared for shipping at the districts wharfs. Though trade is the lifeblood of the fief it is by no means the only industry under the baron’s control. His family has generational contracts with many serf crafters and fine artisans who produce works of art from the precious metals that transit his domain. Silver and Goldsmithing are particular specialties, and much of the jewelry crafted here commands an exorbitant price from buyers in Anschok and off-world.
The Clairborn district would once have been a part of a small city during the Diaspora Era, but since the dawning of the Second Republican Era and the mass expansion of housing on Delphi the cities of the Veet Region have all merged together in to a vast metropolitan area. Since the Fall, Veet has been divided into hundreds of small fiefs ranging from those the size of a single city block to as large as a sprawling suburban area. The Veet City Region and much of the content of Courai was gifted to House Justinian by House Hawkwood when the jumpgate to Paradise closed, and the lesser House has sheltered under the protection of the Lion House. There has also been a great deal of intermarriage between the lesser House of Justinian and the Royal House Hawkwood through the generations and both houses are now closely bound together.
Baron Uthar Justinian (born 4978): The only legitimate descendant of Baron Elsworth Justinian, he inherited his father’s lands and titles shortly after his majority (4999). The old man had a slew of bastard children, but only in the later years of his life did he marry a young woman and produce a legitimate heir. Intent not to repeat his father’s mistakes Uthar sought out an eligible Hawkwood bride, a lady of lesser station, but a woman to whom he was both attracted and in adoration of. Unfortunately his wife was taken from him in childbirth leaving him to care for his infant daughter, since then the openly forthright baron who advocated the renegotiation of Muster contracts regarding mineral rights on Justinian soil has pulled back from his former position, now that he sees the potential economic ruin that may result from such a course of action.
Lady Estel Notman Justinian (born 4959): The wife of the late Baron Elsworth, and mother to Uthar. The Lady Estel is not of noble birth, something that caused rather a scandal at the time of her marriage, and the primary reason why the estate did not pass to her but to her son. She is however maintained in good style by Uthar, though she clashed frequently with her son’s wife with whom the issue of her low birth is a frequent point of contention. She spends a great deal of time with her granddaughter and is trying to prepare her for a life amongst the nobility, where love is secondary to a well placed marriage.
Clara Notman Justinian (born 5004): Clara is the apple of her father’s eye, though he dotes upon her he tries not to spoil her, instead teacher her the value of things that she has. Her father is often away on business, leaving Clara to be raised by her grandmother, whose maiden name she bears (at her grandmother’s instance).
Seneschal Kerson Macbeth (born 4957): An old soldier who served Baron Elsworth during the Emperor Wars, he was wounded in action and became his lords Seneschal a few years later. Though he was born a simple man to a peasant family he has taken responsibility for his own education (and in his eyes, betterment) and it was his self-taught ability to read and write that earned him his place as Seneschal. His leg have completely failed him in recent years, though his mind remains sharp, he continues his duties, but now has an attendant and apprentice to push his wheelchair and to learn his craft while he is still able to teach it.
Men-at-arms: Under normal circumstances Baron Uthar maintains a militia of ten capable veterans (who had served under his father during the Emperor Wars) to act as both guards of the district and constables. The ongoing troubles with the Muster has necessitated that his lord, Count Udoro Justinian has conscripted all available component soldiers for the protection of the Veet City Region, essentially leaving the Baron’s domain without any competent protection. Instead he has twelve serfs with only a few days’ military drilling and barely capable of holding a weapon. Worse yet these ‘soldiers’ have been using their newfound positions to throw their weight about and have caused much disgruntlement amongst the Uthar’s freeman population.
Using Baron Uthar Justinian as a Patron: The Baron is aware that although his fief is suffering under the current economic depression brought on by the strife between his House and the Muster, he is concerned for his fief and the safety of his daughter Clara. As much as he wishes it were otherwise he has decided that his family needs to be protected and that his normal garrison is under-strength because of his commitments to he liege. He makes arrangements through his seneschal to have his mother and daughter secretly transported to safety having made arrangements for them to make an extended visit to his wife’s relatives on Virigo Major. The journey could be risky and the Muster might stoop to hostage taking or slavery, so he needs good people of subtlety and skill to ensure their safe passage.
Using Baron Uthar Justinian as an Adversary: The Baron was once very vocal about the need for House Justinian to assert its rights as landholders to renegotiate extraction rights with the Muster and this stance has made him both friends and enemies. The loss of his wife and the guardianship of his daughter have made him consider the safety of his fief, and the economic situation that besets the entire region. Uthar and his immediate family would despite his relatively lowly status make a high profile target for the Muster. The kidnap and ransom of his daughter would make excellent leverage and his fief is now less that adequately protected.

Wildlife of Delphi

Delphi hosts a mixture of both native and imported species, many of which were brought from Urth during the Diaspora. The cooling climate brought on by the fading suns phenomena has caused the extinction of many species, though some limited success has been made in assisting the migration of various species to new environmental niches. In general plant life has faired batter than animal species in the changing weather systems, but many species now survive only in the tended gardens of the Hawkwood nobility.

Davros Wolf-Cats

The Davros Wolf-Cat are a native species that has shown a talent for survival and adaptation. These felines are roughly comparable to an Urth Lynx, but can grow as large as a cougar. Unlike Urth cats, which are primarily solitary hunters, the Davros Wolf-Cat is a pack hunter and highly social creature with a defined pack hierarchy. It is this pack hierarchy that makes the Wolf-Cat simultaneously very dangerous and adaptable to human socialization and training. These creatures are becoming increasingly popular as pets in the noble courts, and some depictions of Hawkwood heraldry have replaced the stylized Lion with that of the Wolf-Cat.
As the name implies the Davros Wolf-Cats are native to the frozen southern continent of Davros, but these creatures have increased their natural range in the last few centuries as the cool weather systems of Delphi allow parts of the Sildera Sea to freeze to create a land bridge during the harsh winters. As such these animals can now be found roaming the sub-arctic regions of Delphi’s southern hemisphere. The pack is territorial and will defend their hunting range from other packs, they can also be aggressive to during lean times and during the mating season. Although carnivores, the Wolf-Cats have a survival instinct that sees them engage in scavenging behavior. Packs have been known to attack lone travelers, or take children from outlying villages during the winter. Some have even adapted to urban scavenging, mostly around the fringes of the Shiro City Region and the Nacado Holy-State.
Description: Very similar to an Urth Lynx in basic form, though often slightly larger. Although size is not an indication of hierarchy within a Wolf-Cat pack, larger members of the species tend to dominate prominent positions within the pack structure. Fur is white and often prized by hunters and trappers, though during the warmer months this coat will molt becoming patchy with brown markings along the back. Wolf-Cats have large paws with retractable claws, though these are seldom used as a weapon, instead for climbing or maintaining traction when running on ice.
Dex: 9 Vig: 8 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 4 Wil: 3 Resolve 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 7 Pre: 4
Skills: Athletics 9, Dodge 6, Fight 6, Observe 5, Sneak 8
Movement: 14 m
Type Goal DMG Note
Bite 15 3 (I) -
Savage 14 5 (I) Must be used from an Aggressive stance. This requires a coordinated pack, and there for should receive a sizable gang-up bonus.

Frisian Ice Wyrms

Few creatures can be considered as emblematic of Delphi as the Ice Wyrm. First discovered on the Friasian continent, they are in fact native to both Frisia and Davros, though there are differences between the Frisian and Davros species. These majestic creatures have been observed with long scales bodies measuring up to 14 meters in length, and if trappers tales are to be believes than there considerably larger specimens in the deep arctic wilderness.
The Ice Wyrms are usually solitary, but display a frightening degree natural cunning. Though their numbers dipped low during the early Second Republic these creatures are now protected, only nobles are permitted to hunt them, and even then the hunt must be conducted in accordance with specific regulations that prohibits the use of any advanced technology to track or kill such beasts. Instead the noble must pit his own guile against that of the creature and make a clean kill with low-tech weapons (usually a harpoon). Ice Wyrms are sensitive sonic vibrations and Frisian settlements often make use of such technology to prevent the beasts from approaching to close.
Description: The typical Frisian Ice Wyrm is usually about 10 meters in length, covered in glistening sliver-blue scales, from the tip of their tail to the end of their crocodilian-like snout. They possess the strange ability to melt their way through the ice, by using a poorly understood biological mechanism by which their scale flush red and generate tremendous exothermic heat.  These melted wyrm holes freeze over very quickly in the arctic temperature, leaving the creature to essentially swim through the watery tunnels they burrow.
Dex: 4 Vig: 15 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 7 Wil: 4 Resolve 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 3 Pre: 6
Skills: Athletics 7, Dodge 2, Fight 12, Observe 3, Sneak 7
Movement: 20 m
Benefits / Afflictions:
Type Goal DMG Note
Bite 27 8 (I) a critical result can be used to swallow the target whole, this results in automatic damage every turn from digestive bile.
Thermal Scales 16 5 (I) -