Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Custom Known Worlds Maps

Custom Known Worlds Maps
Due in part to the Facebook fiasco, I have decided to create the quick and dirty tutorial on how to redraw the Known Worlds Jumpmap your way.

1. Open Adobe Illustrator CS6 (or another program that can open .ai files). You can download a trial version from Adobe's own website.

2. Download the FS Map.ai file.

3. Open the FS Map.ai file with Illustrator.

4. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A is the keyboard shortcut) to pick up the world you want to move and place it where you want it. The lines that represent the jumproads will redraw to keep the worlds linked. Though once you have moved your worlds about you may wish to tweak the joining points of the jumproads to the world circles.

5. Once you have everything where you want it. You can then overlay pretty graphics directly in Illustrator and drop in a nice background or you can export the diagram to Adobe Photoshop and draw over the top of it.

You can also add or delete worlds / jumproads as you see fit. 

Now you have your very own custom Known Worlds Jumpmap... simple, easy and likely took you less that 30 minutes. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Credit where Credit is due

Fading Suns 3, Known Worlds Jumpmap (Revised and Corrected)
In recent days there has been something of an explosion on the Facebook Fading Suns page. This post is intended to put right any perceived wrongs.

As you may note on my first post concerning the reworking of the Fading Suns Jumpweb and I will quote if you cannot be bothered to follow the link:

The final version of the Fading Suns 3 jumpmap was designed by Simon Powell, and a brilliant job he did on it too. However this is the version I created while we were were trying to reorganise it to place Byzantium Secundus at the centre of the map and at the heart of the Known Worlds. So this is a rough of the final version.

Now I felt that that was very clear. I named Simon Powell as the creator of the final version and use the word 'I' to refer to my graphic (above) and 'we' to reference the work that Simon and I did together to plot the new positions of the worlds to make the new map work.

I am sorry if I some how implied that Simon had no part in this work. As I read it, we (Simon and I) created the map positions together as a joint work and for which we both share credit. But that I am responsible for the graphic above which is based on said work, as is his 'final' version that was supposed to be used in the FS3 publication.

I don't think that I have said anything misleading, but in case I have, I trust that this statement sets the record, and Simon's part in this straight.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sathra

I was very fortunate to have many long conversations with both Bill Bridges and Andrew Greenberg about the true nature of Sathra, little of which is actually revealed here. But I considered those conversations to be 'research' for the proposed "SathraNet" RPG set during the time of the Sathra Insurrection, sadly that project is now not likely to see the light of day.


Sathraism

Sathraism is very hard to quantify and define, even to those who practice it. On the surface it appears to be a secretive and heretical religion carrying notions of atheism and transhuman evolutionism. The personal nature of the Sathra experience ensures that no two covens hold the same beliefs. Some see Sathra as a religion, and refer to the Sathra experience as looking upon the face of god; others however scoff at such descriptions instead stating that they commune with infinite of the cosmos and go so far as to deny the existence of Pancreator.

Depending on the particular philosophical point of view of a brotherhood of Sathrists, they may or may not practice certain ceremonies with religious trappings; these sacraments are, much like those who practice them, highly stylized and individual. Sathraists are deemed by the Universal Church to be at best heretics, or more often apostates and hell raisers. Sathraists stand accused of partaking in a dark philosophy and consorting with unholy realms, while simultaneously denying the existence and or providence of the Pancreator. Even vile Antinomists acknowledge the existence of the Pancreator, even as they willingly turn away from his divine light.

Prolonged experience of the Sathra communion is known to bring about fundamental changes within the Sathrists very beings. Indeed there is an abnormally high frequency of psychic awakening and misfit evolution amongst Sathraists, which may be linked to the experience of the infinite.

Sathraism was born at the moment of jump ecstasy experienced by the first pilot to ever travel through the Jumpgate at Holy Terra. The world on the far side was named Sathra’s Boon in honor of that transcendental experience. Since its very beginnings, Sathraism and those who seek the experience and practice its philosophy have been viewed with suspicion and have ultimately vilified, persecuted, and doomed by excommunication and cleansing fires.

Sathrists have been persecuted since the time of the First Republic. The ruling zaibatsu grew to fear the unity brought by the shared Sathra experience and sought to protect their interests, commercial properties, and secrets. Pilots showed more loyalty to each other than to their zaibatsu superiors and many workers sent to labor on distant worlds deserted their positions to travel the Jumpweb. What began as fearful rumors and scaremongering was quickly followed by arrests, interrogation, and torture. When it became apparent that there was a correlation between the Sathra experience and incidence of psychic powers, the zaibatsu struck swiftly to protect themselves and their interests. The result was the Sathra Insurrection.

The zaibatsu developed their greatest weapon against the Sathra revolutionaries, their scientist’s perfected the Sathra Damper to protect the occupants of a ship from the warping communion of the jump, effectively preventing their subjects from experiencing the Sathra communion, cutting off the flow of converts seeking to join the Sathra brotherhood. The end result of the war was inevitable, the Sathrists, despite all their advantages (fierce loyalty to each other, exceptional frequency of occult powers, liberalism, mobility and nomadic nature, and so on), were too few and the might of the zaibatsu too great. The Sathrists were scattered across the stars, fleeing down a hundred different jumproads. Their philosophy became a dead religion and as the centuries passed they were almost forgotten, consigned to myth as bogie men, revolutionaries and ancient anarchists.

By the time human expansion caught up with the descendants of those initial Sathra pilots, the Second Republic was beginning to crumble. Worse yet, when several leading figures within the failing Republic revealed themselves as adherents of the Sathra cult the reaction was swift and bloody. The Universal Church was outraged and did its part in vilifying and condemning Sathraists as agents of anarchy and demons who worked within the system to bring it to its knees. Although now mostly forgotten, at the time of the Fall, Sathraitsts were at the top of the list of culprits blamed for the crash of the Second Republic. As the Fall began and the nobles rose to take control, the Sathra worlds were converted by the sword and the blaster. The Brother Battle sect gained much of its fame crushing the last enclaves of openly practicing Sathraists.

After its brief resurgence, Sathraism was again a dead philosophy, but one that threatened to rear up at any time, for to the authorities of the New Dark Ages it seemed that all it took was a single ship with faulty Sathra Damper, and the cult would blossomed anew. A journey aboard an unbuffered ship could turn any man who was not resolute in his faith, away from the Pancreator’s grace to the hazy no-space of Sathra.

In the New Dark Ages, Sathra was believed to be a form of demonic worship, and this perception has carried into the age of the Phoenix Empire. Draconian laws from the times of the First Republic, have been revived at the behest of the Universal Church making Sathraism an offence punishable by torture, excommunication, and death by the most horrific means.

It is a hazard of their profession that most present day sathraists are found amongst the ranks of the Charioteers Guild and others who frequently travel the Jumpweb. The Charioteers own integral security force, the Killroys, rigorously investigates allegations of Sathra practice. The Inquisition too, takes a great deal of interest in any starship that makes frequent or repeated jumps without sufficient downtime in port or a legitimate (in the eyes of the Universal Church) reason to travel. Jump drives must be regularly serviced and maintained to keep them operational and any sign of tampering with Sathra Damper will bring Universal Church and Guild scrutiny down upon the captain and crew.

Sathraism Philosophy and Organization

Sathraists firmly believe the rapture they experience in the instant eternity of the jump to be available to all sentients, and even near-sentients. They see it as both the source to and the ultimate expression of sentient evolution, a potential for a transcendental state of being available to anyone willing to embrace it. Those who stay planet-bound all miss the opportunity to experience sentient evolution, and many Sathraists see it as their duty to show others the light of Sathra, forcefully if need be.

By necessity Sathraists are a secretive lot, their traditions and doctrines handed down orally within a brotherhood to prevent them being used as evidence in the event of discovery. Most ascribe the rapture with transformative powers, during the instant eternity of the jump the human and spirit is thought to be perfected, without flaw. Not only is the spirit immaculate, cleansed of all ground-based defects, it becomes something new and superhuman. It is as though the caterpillar could get a glimpse of itself as the butterfly.

Indeed, Sathra congregations believe that humanity was on the verge of a great evolutionary leap before the zaibatsu shut them down. They see the simultaneous rise of Sathraism, psychic powers and naturally occurring Misfits as proof of this, and feel a kinship with all these groups. Some Sathraists even view non-Sathraist psychics as traitors. While psychic phenomenon seems to have preceded humanity’s first jump, Sathraists believe it has always been the jumpgates that awakened large numbers of people to their otherwise untapped psychic potential.

Among the Sathraists, pilots hold a special place as they are the ones making communion with the gate—programming the codes to heavenly bliss. As a result, they are usually looked to as leaders, sometimes titled “blessed ones”, and all aspire to their position. Collectively, Sathraists tend to speak of themselves as brotherhoods or star family, with individual members referred to as brother/sister or star sibling. A pilot flying an unbuffered ship is regarded as something akin to a priest with the crew and passengers being the congregation (willing or not). Some Sathraists prefer to travel alone and have developed small starships in order to make the jump as personal (and strong) as possible.

Sacraments of Sathra

“Brothers, prepare for the abundance of the void. Give thanks for the blessings of infinity.”
- Common Sathraist liturgy

Adherents to Sathraism often form groups of transcendentalists who come together on a regular basis to celebrate the Sathra phenomenon and effects, and the congregation of Sathraists. Unlike other faiths, Sathraism has no theurgy or other form of miracle working and Sathra sacraments have no occult meaning or significance. Their sacraments do, however, cement group affiliation and offer psychological assurance and peace just as with more recognizable religions. That said; there is no formalized list of sacraments in the Sathra philosophy, no canonical work on theology, philosophy, ceremony or everyday conduct. Presented below are few sacraments known to be have been practiced by Sathraists, although no Sathraist community or individual practice them all and some groups reject sacraments altogether because of the religious overtones it lends to another wise atheistic world view.

Baptism of the Star Children: The forced (attempted) conversion of unsuspecting spacefarers to the Sathra philosophy is sometimes regarded as a sacrament dispensed by the enlightened pilot to the under-evolved recipients who’s inner potential to blossom (the “star child”) is awoken. The victims of the unbuffered Jump are typically intoxicated or drugged beforehand, just to make them complacent enough to receive the enlightening gift of Sathra. 

Transcendental Commune: The only universal Sathraism sacrament is the shared Sathra Effect experience by a congregation making a Jump in an unbuffered starship. The pilot-guru prepares the congregation before the Jump by placing them in a receptive state through meditation and sometimes drug consumption. It is said that master pilots are able to enhance the Sathra experience in this way, causing the congregation to feel connected with each other and every living thing – a realization that all is one and that one is the individual Sathraist.

Void Meditation: Cold space is the source of all things, the sea of potential on which everything drifts. Guided contemplation and meditation in this dark void, undistracted by sensory impulses and the concerns of everyday life, can, some Sathraists hold, give insights into the very structure of the universe, the moment of its self-construction (autogenesis) and nature of the Sathra bliss. This sacrament is usually practiced on the long journeys between planet and Jumpgate, with the congregation gathering before a large space-view window, staring into the deep dark while the pilot-guru leads them in mantra recitation and yoga techniques. Sensory deprivation combined with intense concentration and body-control techniques (frequently combined with drug consumption), often produce flashes of light before the eyes of a Sathraist, sometimes appearing as blurred shapes or even full blown hallucinations. Traditionally, Sathraists are not supposed to share their experience with their fellows, for only they themselves can hope to make sense of their personal message and insight from the universe both manifest and unseen. Some visions leave the Sathraist reassured and confidant, while at other times visions reduce the recipient to nervous wreaks and episodes of insanity.

Adoration of the Gate-Intelligence: Many Sathraists believe that the Jumpgates are homes, or prisons for some race of incorporeal alien intelligences. Some claim they are gods or demons, while others insist they are the ghosts of the lesser Anunnaki – mighty servitor beings incomprehensible to unenlightened minds. For some Sathraist groups, these “Gate Intelligences” take the form of deities to be worshipped, and some even praise them with sacrificial offerings. The maddest groups are full-fledged suicide cults, groups who prepare for years before journeying to the Jumpgate of their choice to “shed the corporal vessel” in bizarre acts of mass suicide. Many Sathraists, however, deny the existence of divine beings in the Sathra philosophy, for the universe itself is the only reality worth worshipping, and “pagan Sathraists” are sometimes persecuted by their non-theist brethren.

Gate Entombment: In some Sathraist communities and tradition’s dead brothers and sisters are brought to the surface of a Jumpgate where the body is laid to rest between antediluvian symbols and underneath incomprehensible pieces of machinery and decoration. Typically the body is first left naked in space for a few hours as all the body’s liquids are boiled away by cosmic radiation and lack of atmospheric pressure. The dry mummified remains is then brought back onboard the ship and dressed in fine clothes, before a funeral is conducted on the Jumpgate surface or inside its very structure. Other Sathraists however, see touching the Sathra inducing gates with gross material fresh as blasphemy. 

Using a Jumpgate without a Jumpkey

Although the Jumpkey became the preeminent technology for the swift exchange of jump coordinates during the Second Republic they were only one of a number of jump coordinate storage and transfer methods employed during the late Diaspora Era onwards. Prior to the jumpkey, jump coordinates required to be recalculated at every jump, which could take many hours to complete even with a sophisticated think machine.

This can still be done, but for the most part is a lost art, occasionally used by explorers and Sathraists. This is considered a black art to the Charioteers Guild who will seek to punish anyone they discover to be violating their monopoly in such a way.

Manually calculating a jump coordinate requires a couple of things to have a chance of working. The pilot must be aware of the existence of the jumproute he is trying to open. She then must make two jump calculations (one of the position of the sending gate and one of the receiving gate), each requiring a successful Wits + Lore (Jumpgates) goal roll. Each calculation can take hours with a good think machine or days without one, Subtract the VPs for the goal roll from 20 to find out how long each coordinate takes to calculate.

The Sathra Effect

The passengers and crew aboard an unbuffered starship may experience the Sathra Effect: the jump-ecstasy that Sathraists call communion. This rapture is usually most intense for the pilot of the ship, but other crew and passengers will typically experience it as well. Communion has a mysterious effect; most experience an enlightening bliss, while a few also receive visions, instructions, psychic awakening or other side effects. The rapture is addictive, and like an euphoria-inducing drug it calls to be experienced again and again. Each time the Sathraist feels as though they are just on the edge of some great insight into the universe, some revelation just beyond their grasp and all it will take is just one more jump…

When a character experiences the Sathra Effect, she must make an Intuition+Calling goal roll to determine the nature of her experience. (For Calling, see the end of this chapter). The following effects should be used as guidelines only, and the gamesmaster should modify them in whatever way s/he sees fit.

0 VP – Rapture: The character experiences the sublime bliss of the communion, an ecstasy that washes over him in an instant that seems to last an eternity. The rapture always leaves the word “Sathra” on the lips of those who experience it.
1-11 VPs – Visions: Those who experience the communion remember few specifics. They speak of experiencing infinity and communication with ancient intelligences, but can say little more. This is a profound revelation. As with many mystical experiences, the content of the vision quickly fades, but the character is left with a deep feeling of oneness with… something. Many try to recreate the experienced by relating it to forms important to them—the sayings of the Prophet, the writings of Emperor Vladimir—in a desperate attempt to grasp the ephemeral mystery they have touched. But most Sathra mystics feel that the deep, wordless questions raised by their experience can only be answered by repeated communion. With each journey, the Sathraist feels he is getting closer to the answers to the unspoken questions his soul utters. It is said that the most experienced Sathraists can enlighten masses with but a word, so great is their connection to the infinite.
The Sathra Effect is one of the greatest mysteries in the universe; no one knows what it is really about. It ignites fear in the hearts and minds of many, but to others it is a siren call from beyond.
12+ VPs – Life Altering: The experiences of the character are so profound that they change something fundamental in his make-up. He might develop psychic powers, manifest a Misfits mutation, or gain or lose benefits and afflictions.
While the Sathra Effect usually gives one a vision of a perfect universe, some who have experienced it have seen a glimpse of great evil behind the perfection—perfect malevolence, some have said. This can be the result of a Mishap on the Intuition+Calling goal roll, though that character will also experience the Rapture as well. No Sathraist has ever been able to explain this feeling, though the most accepted belief is that it comes from humanity’s corruption within the universal order, as represented by the zaibatsu and others who would suppress the movement.

Sathra Disciplines

Sathra disciplines are a form of psychic ability specifically linked to the Jumpgates, their function and on rare occasions other Anunnaki artifacts. Interestingly, Sathra disciplines, unlike other psychic powers, never occur naturally – they manifest only in certain people who have experienced the Sathra communion (often repeatedly), and Sathra disciplines are therefore very rare even in comparison to other psychic powers and occur only within Sathra congregations. 
Sathra disciplines usually act on the Jumpgates themselves or through the connecting Jumpweb. In all cases these abilities must be used in the void of space and all effects immediately cease if the psychic enters the gravity well of a celestial body. In many cases the psychic must also be able to perceive the Jumpgate his abilities are targeting, unaided a Jumpgate should be visible (if only as a bright star) from the distance of about 1AU. Ships sensors can greatly extend the use of the psychics capabilities.

Gate Keeper

Who are you to judge me? Because I do with psyche and will what you can barely accomplish with the relic tools of your forefathers, you fear me. Would you but embrace the majesty of Sathra instead of having your technicians and scientists beating the Jumpgates to into submission, the vastness of space would open up before you like a flower. 
- The last words of Sathraist pilot Shabako Sesame, executed on Istakhr in 4921

Gate Keeper is the power to communicate with a Jumpgate through a psychic link. Through this link the Gate Keeper is able to control the functions of the Jumpgate without the need for Jumpkeys or computation of jump coordinates. This discipline can be used to communicate with a jumpgate that is within sensory range (in space a jumpgate can be visible from as far as 1AU with the naked eye and much further using a ships sensors).

Latent Gate Keeper
Jumpgates almost speak to the latent Gate Keeper, granting a +1 bonus to any Lore (Jumpgates) goal roll.

Operant Gate Keeper
Latch/Unlatch: [Wits + Gate Keeper] The Sathraist can increase or decrease a Jumpgate’s reset time by one level per 2VPs scored. A reset time of zero means the Jumpgate can be opened immediately while every level beyond “1 week” adds or subtracts another week to the reset time. Passive jumps can still come through as normal though. A Gate Keeper may only attempt to modify a specific reset time once per Scene. 
Gate Scan: [Intuition + Gate Keeper] Reaching out telepathically to the Jumpgate, the Gate Keeper is able to search the memory of the arcane machine to learn which Jumproute(s) connect with it. Every 2 VPs scored reveals one Jumproad (which systems it connects too), starting with the most frequently travelled. The name by which the connecting systems (primary worlds) are most commonly called is revealed. For instance, “beyond this Jumpgate lays the Sutek-Pandora Jumproad”. 
Signpost: [Will + Gate Keeper] The Gate Keeper is able to imprint a short telepathic message in to the Jumpgate that will be received by the next Sathrist to use a Gate Keeper discipline will receive. These messages by necessity are very short, only a single word plus one additional word per VP scored.

Prime Gate Keeper
Barricade: [Will + Gate Keeper] The Sathraist immediately closes a Jumpgate, preventing both active and passive jumps. The system served by the Jumpgate becomes a Lost World. A Gate Keeper can also use this power to un-barricade a Jumpgate by scoring more VPs than the barricading Gate Keeper. The Jumpgate will eventually reopen on its own, but this could take centuries. 

Jump Master

Of the claimed powers of Sathraist gurus little can be said for certain. One Sathraist, interrogated by Sutek Systems Security Lieutenant Matti Rosenkrans, insisted she could travel the Jumpweb in person and coerce a Jumpgate to open its Jumproads to her without the use of an astrogation computation device. However, these claims cannot be verified, and are likely to be greatly exaggerated or even entirely fanciful.
  • - An Introduction to the Psi Phenomenon, 3786,
by Dr. Darius Phavian

Jump Master is the discipline concerned with travel through and study of, the Jumpweb using only the powers of the psychic mind. The jump Master must be within sensory range (in space a jumpgate can be visible from as far as 1AU with the naked eye and much further using a ships sensors) of the Jumpgate to use this discipline.

Latent Jump Master
The latent Jump Master has an instinctive understanding of the Jumpweb, receiving a +1 bonus to all Lore (Jumpweb) goal rolls.

Operant Jump Master
Trailing: [Intuition + Jump Master] The Sathraist determines the destination/origin of the latest Jump through the Jumpgate (passive or active). Similarly, the Sathraist may divine the destination/origin of an active or passive Jump taking place at the time through a currently activated Jumpgate. 
Instinctive Astrogation: [Wits + Jump Master] With this power the Sathraist can open a known Jumproad without the use of a Jumpkey. Accessing a known Jumproad that the Sathrist has travelled before is fairly simple, requiring only a successful goal roll. Travelling a known but previously untraveled jumproad requires 6VPs.

Prime Jump Master
Jump Harmony: [Will + Jump Master] Usually a starship needs a Jump Drive to activate a gate once a course is plotted (or it may attach to another Jump-capable starship), but with this power the Sathraist is able to launch her starship (or even just herself) into an activated Jumpgate without such machinery. There is no actual “engine” involved in a jump, as the Jump Drive doesn’t offer actual propulsion, instead working to “harmonize” a ship (and any attached vessels) to the Jumpgate allowing it to pass onto the Jumpweb and beyond to its destination. 

Kinship

And beware; the most prominent Sathraists become dark prophets of the Sathra demon, holding in their grip all passengers and crew, as jump commences. Even women and men of the cloth have been forced into the Sathra Deviltry when accompanying a Sathra crew in their forbidden communion. Finally, these nefarious agents of the Darkness Between the Stars are always expert pilots, for they bond with their ship is as a lover, and their powers of mental communication seems to have no limits.
- Enemies of Light, 4986, lecture before the Inquisitorial Synod by Sister Sue Vandél of the Holy Flame

A Sathraist with this power has become so harmonized with Sathra that she has become a shepherd of starships and spacefarers in Sathra. This power is communal; affecting communication with other spacefarers and the starship the Sathraist is on. It does not involve Jumpgates or Jumpweb travel directly.

Latent Kinship
The latent Void Being feels starship speak to her, and she receives a +1 bonus to all Tech Redemption goal rolls involving starships on which she currently travels.

Operant Kinship
Shipfriend: [Intuition + Kinship] The Sathraist can sense the starship she is on, and the space around it, as if the ship was her body. The ship responds to her touch, becoming more cooperative as the Sathraist is able to coax the ship to out-perform its normal limitations for the reminder of the Scene. The VPs scored on the Kinship goal roll can be used to purchase temporary performance increases. Only one use of Shipfriend can be attempted on a single ship at a time, but a group of Kinship psychics can cooperate using the rules for Group Actions (Fading Suns Player’s Guide p.XX).

VPs Effect
1 +/- 1 to the ships Signature
2 +1 to Helm related goal rolls
4 +/- 1 step to the ships acceleration 

Example: Maribelle the Sathraist has just scored 7 VPs on her Kinship discipline. She is aware that the Universal Church Fleet has blockaded the Jumpgate and that she little chance of bluffing her way through. Instead she prepares herself and her ship to run the blockade. She spends 4 points to improve her Helm goals by +2 and uses the remaining 3 VPs to reduce her ships Signature. 

Communion: [Will + Kinship] It is the pilot of an unbuffered craft who experiences the greatest effect of the Sathra experience, but those experienced in the Kinship discipline are able to share that experience with their congregation. The psychic must be the pilot of the vessel and activate the communion as they enter the Jumpgate. The full experience of the pilot may then be shared with up a number of passengers equal to the VPs on the goal roll. The psychic may choose who to include in the shared communion (willing or not).

Prime Kinship
Far Speech: [Presence + Kinship] The Sathraist is able to project a one-word message through the Jumpgate and across the Jumpweb to a single designated Sathraist target. The psychic must know the target. For each VP scored the psychic may add an additional word to the message or an additional jump to the effective range.

Calling

The Calling is the dark side of the Sathra experience, the accumulating need for a greater level of communion with Sathra-space. The notion that some great truth will be revealed if the Sathra experience can be prolonged for just a moment longer bring Sathraists to seek to relive it time and again, often while trying out meditation techniques or new drugs. One persistent myth holds that true enlightenment will be achieved once enough unbuffered jumps have been experienced, or when one has made unbuffered jumps through a certain number of different Jumpgates.

Calling is gained through roleplaying. Certain acts undertaken by a character can cause her Calling to grow. The Sathra experience often promotes various forms transformation, be it psychic, evolutionary or transhuman, which means that most senior Sathra practitioners have access to psychic, misfit or advanced cybernetic capabilities. When a Sathraist psychic, misfit or cyborg gains a point of temporary point in one of their occult or exotic pools, they may instead apply these points to their Calling pool. Note however that occult pools related to magic (Hubris and Thralldom for example) may not be transferred in this way.

Here follows a general guideline for what may cause Sathrists to gain or lose Calling.

Acts that may increase Calling Temporary Obsession Gained
Disabling a ship’s Sathra Dampers 1-2
Experiencing a psychedelic drug trip 1-2
Experiencing the Sathra Effect 1-3 (doubled for the pilot)
Experiencing other types of intense bliss 1
Introducing another to the Sathra Effect 1 (in addition to experiencing it personally)
Mystical or religious experience 0-2
Preaching or defending Sathraism 1
Reading Sathraist poetry or literature 1
Travelling a new Jumproad 2 (in addition to any Sathra Effect experience)
Using a Sathra Discipline 1

Acts that may decrease Obsession Temporary Obsession Lost
Abstaining from space travel for a year 1-2
Church mercy (becoming Penitent) 1
Completing non-Sathra pilgrimage 1
Exposure to a Soul Shard 1
Exposure to a Philosopher’s Stone 1-2
Performing a Church mission 1
Practicing solitary asceticism for a year 1-3
Receiving non-Sathra Sacraments (per sacrament) 1
Recovering from drug addiction 0-1
Strict adherence to Penitent Code for a year 1

Calling Pool and Calling Effects
As the Sathrist gains permanent Calling he manifests the corresponding level of Calling Effect. Calling effects are either “permanent” or “temporary”. The “permanent” are always in effect and will disappear only if the Sathrist’s permanent Calling level drops, while the “temporary” effects can be activated at the gamemasters whim. Activating a “temporary” Calling effect sates the Sathrist by using up a temporary point of Calling, these effects last for one Scene. If the Sathrist has no checks in the temporary Calling track, he is fortunate enough to be able to convert one permanent Calling check into 10 temporary Calling checks, minus the number of temporary Calling lost in the sating experience.

Anxiety (Calling 1, permanent) The Sathraist has become psychologically addicted to the Sathra ecstasy. If she is unable to experience the instant eternity bliss of an unbuffered jump every 4 weeks she becomes anxious and irritable, suffering a -2 penalty on all social goal rolls and is unable to use skill synergies in social situations.

Freedom (Calling 2, permanent) The Sathraist begins to understand that the Sathra effect is allowing her to experience her ultimate evolutionary state. She becomes dissatisfied with the present and stifling limitations of the dominant social order, craving freedom from such base structures that place lesser-evolved beings in positions of power. The Sathraist suffers a -2 on all social goal rolls when she feels restricted by social norms. She is likely to be angered by established hierarchies include those of the nobility, Universal Church and the Merchant League.

Insomnia (Calling 3, temporary) The Sathraist devotes all her time and energy to contemplating the mysteries of Sathra space. She withdraws from non-Sathraists to recall her experiences, and dream / plan for the next jump. She often forgets to sleep and fatigue can become crippling. The character is unable to rest and may not regain Fatigue through rest this scene, in addition she suffers -2 penalty to all non-life threatening goal rolls.

Wanderlust (Calling 4, temporary) The Sathraist begins to feel restricted by her physical location. This can manifest as a form of claustrophobia or a restless desire to see new horizons. If the character is unable to sate her desire to be somewhere else / new, she must immediately expend a permanent point from her Faith pool, to control her urges.

Obsession (Calling 5, permanent) The Sathraist’s interests in transcendental progression become an obsession. She becomes so focused on her pursuit of this elusive enlightened state that she forsakes all else as of little importance. The character may no longer use Faith points or skill synergies except where it relates directly to obtaining her next jump experience.

Dark Glimpse (Calling 6, temporary) The Sathraist begins to suffer episodes, flashbacks to the moment of the jump ecstasy and the visions it brings. But these are not the sublime rapture she remembers but instead a dark vision of some unimaginable evil. The character begins to suffer frequent night terrors and may be over-come by hysteria even while awake, flailing her arms and legs wildly and screaming incoherently.

Voidborn (Calling 7, permanent) The Sathraist becomes uncomfortable when within the gravitational field of a celestial body. Preferring life aboard a starship (often with the artificial gravity turned low). She becomes increasingly uneasy while planet-bound, frequently resulting in depression. The Sathraist finds planet-bound existence exhausting and is unable to restore Fatigue or Injury while in such a heavy material plane.

Dark Presence (Calling 8, temporary) The Sathraist becomes convinced that something followed her back to the material realm after the last unbuffered jump. She comes to believe that some malevolent force is stalking her or whispering dark tidings into her ear. Even worse, if nearby people remain silent; they might just be able to hear a faint buzzing noise or distant whisper, although no attempt to record the ‘sound’ will succeed. The Sathraist begins to suffer from paranoia and schizophrenic episodes.

Disturbing Revelation (Calling 9, permanent) The Sathraist comes to believe that she has be duped by the Sathra Effect, but like a moth to a flame she cannot look away. She receives visions of her ‘perfected’ fate, but it is corrupted. Her need to achieve spiritual perfection before she has earned it is the source of her imperfections.  She understands too late that Sathra is an evolutionary potential, not a road to be followed. Her congregation begins to experience her corrupted vision of Sathra and will be psychologically scared as a result.

Dark Crossing (Calling 10, permanent) The Sathraist vanishes into shadows that seem to come from nowhere, or if this level of Calling is experienced while making an unbuffered jump the Sathraist enters the jumpgate on one side and simply does not emerge again on the other. She is simply gone, never to be heard from again.

Disabling a Sathra Damper 

Shutting down the Sathra Damper on a starship is not an easy task. Besides being a crime, it is a highly specialized affair: only a trained starship engineer can hope to accomplish it. The Sathra Dampers were designed to resist tampering and there are many traps and buffers to work through.
In game terms, a character must attain 20VPs on an extended Wits + Tech Redemption roll to disable a ship’s Sathra Damper, possibly drawing Synergy from such skills as Lore (Sathra) and Lore (Starship Design). A mishap result is likely to cause damage to the ship or make the tampering obvious. While it is hard to shut a damper off, it is much easier to turn it on again: only 5 VPs are required (unless it has been damaged).

There are rumors of ships installed with dampers carrying easy shut-off switches, but this would require tampering during the construction process, under the nose of the construction crew and Universal Church monitors.

Sinners and Saints

Symon Kepplar
Symon was born a native of Pandemonium, his father a stevedore who handled the loading and unloading of cargos in the Afil Spaceport. Even at only a few years old, Symon realized that life on Pandemonium was going to be hard. More and more people, displaced by the cataclysms of 4981, were pouring into the city and life was growing harder by the moment. At the first opportunity Symon, only 7 years old, stowed away on a starship to escape from the growing horror of Pandemonium.

At that age he knew nothing of spaceflight or the Sathra Effect, but while hidden aboard that ship Symon experienced his first communion. Instantly addicted to the wonders of space travel he stayed aboard the ship rather than leave when they made planetfall. His small cache of supplies dwindled and he was eventually caught trying to steal from the ships stores. Symon was brought before the captain and he begged for his life and for the privilege to experience just one more Jump. The Sathraists recognized his desire for communion and took him onto the crew as ‘cabin boy’

Symon served his apprenticeship aboard the unbuffered ship Majesty; never again setting foot on a planet, and with each communion his desire for further Sathra experiences grew. His psychic talents developed early on and the coven encouraged his development, grooming him for his eventual ascension to a position of leadership.

Symon’s talents led to his growing reputation as an explorer and an expert on jumpgates, ultimately receiving patronage from a young Hazat, Gaspar Antonio de Hira. The young noble had a wild theory that the Jumpweb was globular in shape, and was on, as a matter of honor, a quest to prove that the Jumpweb could be circumnavigated. Kepplar and his explorer crew seized upon the opportunity for both great adventure and excuses for making evermore frequent Jumps.

Quote: “I can feel it. Every time we cross a gate the instant of transition is longer, infinitesimally longer. Imperceptible to most, but not to me, each Jump is a step closer to a full transfiguration.”
Description: A young man with deep and ancient blue eyes. Sandy blond hair and hawkish features add the illusion of youth. He speaks little and prefers to live under low gravity, often adjusting the standard gravity aboard his ship to suit his mood.

Dex: 8 Vig: 4 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 6 Wil: 3 Fatigue 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 6 Pre: 4 Reputation 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Faith: 2 Calling: 4
Skills: Athletics 3, Culture (Pandemonium) 3, Culture (Hira) 2, Culture (Leminkainen) 2, Culture (Sutek) 2, Culture (Byzantium Secundus) 3, Culture (Hazat) 3, Culture (Hawkwood) 2, Culture (Decados) 2, Culture (Phoenix Empire) 4, Culture (Kurga Caliphate) 1, Culture (Vuldrok Star Nation) 2, Deception 5, Dodge 3, Fight 4, Influence 5, Lore (Jumpweb) 8, Lore (Sathra) 3, Observe 5, Helm 9, Shoot 5, Sneak 3, Streetwise 4, Think Machine 4, Throw 3
Benefits & Afflictions: Wealth (Poor), Well-Travelled, Coven, 
Psi: Farhand 3, Gate Keeper 6, Kinship 2
Gear: Travel clothing, Pearl earring, several doses of Obun Yoghurt, wrist band Squawker and Timepiece, Dreskel Boomer shotgun (regular and slapper shells).



Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Kurga Caliphate

As with the Vuldrok, when we wrote FS3 we made some timeline updates. many of the independent barbarian worlds that had a small population of Kurgans are now classed as full kurgan worlds. The updated timeline sets the Kurgan state up for a very big fall and a change in leadership in the very near future. This in part was done to foreshadow the planned "Kurgan Crusade" Campaign Book that we had planned for and a significant tie in with Noble Armada 3rd Edition that I had also been writing in tandem with FS3's ship design rules.


Kurga Caliphate

The Kurga Caliphate is a barbarian nation of stark contrast. It is one where opulent richness and plenty rubs shoulders with abject poverty and starvation. To the citizens of the Phoenix Empire, Kurgan Space is a lawless and unintelligible barbarous region, devoid of any guidance from the Royal Houses or inspiration from the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun, a place where even the Merchant League hesitates to trade. To the people of the Caliphate, however, Kurgan society is the most perfect of all cultures, the last bastion of enlightenment in a chaotic universe, whilst the Phoenix Empire is seen as an unruly region of power grabbing elitists and downtrodden unfortunates, of mindlessness and wild ambition.

A History of the Kurga Caliphate

Historians and diplomats have reconstructed the following tale since contact was established between the Kurga Caliphate and the Pheonix Empire in 4987, and many have questioned its authenticity, at least in parts. 

Kurgan history and culture began with a single man, just as the current Kurgan society revolves around the Caliph. That man was Bjorn Egon, whose lifetime straddles the end of the Diaspora and the start of the Second Republic. Ambassadors and scholars of the Phoenix Empire have so far been unable to shed much light on this character, for in Kurgan society he has taken the form of a mythical hero while actual historic information is fragmentary. It seems that early historians considered Egon one of the founding fathers of the Second Republic while the late Republican historians depict him as a merciless tyrant, embodying all the power, wealth and privilege now commonly attributed to the nobility. 

What few records there are, combined with Kurgan folk legends, indicate that at some point early in the 36th century Egon acquired the jumpkeys to two previously unknown worlds (Al Fashir and Beliah), both were mineral rich planets in an undeveloped pocket of space. What may have begun as a business venture is now remembered in Kurgan folklore as a secret exodus to a paradise beyond the reach of the bureaucrats of the Second Republic. By keeping false records and bribing officials to look the other way, Egon managed to develop his own private Empire that remained hidden for generations, before the Second Republic discovered the truth in the 38th century. Republic authorities discovered the secret Jumpweb and moved in to liberate the captive population, only to find the population resisting reintegration into the Republic. 

Thought the Second Republic did liberate the Kurgan worlds, the Kurgan Culture and religion held strong. Eventually recognized by the Republic as a area of cultural and ethnic diversity it was accorded certain protections in the late 40th century largely due to the manipulations of the Sata Natura (ca.3940-unknown), who utilized her exotic beauty, social graces and shrewd business acumen to advance the cause for Kurgan Rights. Sata Natura is today immortalized in folk legend as both a temptress and as a mighty leader. It was she who discovered the existence of a Philosopher’s Stone that exerted a powerful influence upon the Hira Jumpgate, and when the Hazat made their coup against the House Chauki, Sata Natura lead a force of “Kurgan” separatists to seized the artifact and shut down the jump route between Hira and Vera Cruz (3997), and later between Hira and Khayyam (4000). 

With Kurgan worlds again cut off from the Second Republic that Fall came swiftly to the Kurgan worlds as the republic infrastructures could not hold without support from the centre. Tiny isolated kingdoms rose and toppled, warred, allied or were subsumed into nascent empires all over the “Kurgan” worlds. In this time the nomadic clans descending from Egon’s original population grew stronger and bolder. Tribes raided weaker kingdoms when resources were scarce, and banded together to overrun larger empires which they perceived as a threat. Some settled to enjoy the fruits of their conquest, and some even took the stars as spacefarers whose wanderlust could not be contained within a single planet. 

In the 44th century Kurgan Space and the Lost Worlds around it were scattered and unruly, uncivilized, and into this mix burst the Vuldrok Star Nations. The Vuldrok raided the Kurgan worlds and settled on some of them. Juhangiz Furhan (4434-4506), an ascetic mystic, renounced his hermitage, and waged for a decade he waged a one-man guerilla war against the enslavers, sometimes enlisting the support of outlaw bands and rebel tribes, but with only sporadic success. Juhangiz realized that he would need more powerful allies, and soon took his cause to the stars. 

Juhangiz roamed all over “Kurgan” space, visiting planet after planet, drumming up support for his cause fight the Vuldrok invaders – this effort was later dubbed the First Pilgrimage and serving as a model for others to follow. On Al Fashir he recovered Sata Natura’s Philosopher’s Stone and in 4467 Juhangiz used this device to reopen the Jumpgate to Hira. He reunited the scattered tribes and the Vuldrok colonies on Al Fashir fell to him. Next Juhangiz pushed on to Beliah, leaving his forces behind to recapture that world while he himself pushed onwards to Irem. 

There the Vuldrok captured him, and for two years he endured the manacles and whips, all the while organizing covert resistance and fermenting rebellion among the slaves. When his “Kurgan” forces reached Irem the Vuldrok soon found themselves battling both an off-world attack and an uprising from within. In a matter of days the Vuldrok kingdom of Irem was toppled and the invaders were pushed back. 

Juhangiz emerged as hero and legend, becoming a guiding light and inspirational prophet to all free “Kurgans”. He was eventually proclaimed a living prophet, and toward the end of his life his status was elevated to Caliph of Zebulon. The liberation of Irem in 4473 marked the foundation of the Kurga Caliphate and is considered Year 1 of the Kurga calendar. 

In the centuries since successive Caliphs have come and gone, some have sought to prosecute jihad against the Known Worlds, while others have sought isolation. The Kurga Caliphate remained of little concern to the Known Worlds until the Kurgan Jihad poured through the Vera Cruz Jumpgate in 4801. It was Caliph Bayazid Iskandur who had restarted the Jihad, using Sata Natura’s Philosopher’s Stone, as the first act of his reign. This time the Jihad took the form of hit-and-run raids with the Vera Cruz Jumproad opening and closing on an almost routine basis to let Kurgan raiders in and out of the system. Despite this tactic the Hazat forces managed to penetrate into Hira space, in trickles at first and then in streams and floods, until warfare had moved primarily from Vera Cruz space and into Hira space. 

By the end of the 49th century the Caliphate had squandered much of its wealth on the Jihad, loosing sole sovereignty of Hira in the process. In 4899 Caliph Juhangiz XVII, a direct descendant of the first Caliph, ordered the Vera Cruz Jumproad closed, and the Known Worlds again knew a prolonged period of peace from the Kurga Caliphate.

In 4987 the Hira-Vera Cruz Jumproad spontaneously reopened again, and the present Caliph Hulagulu took it as a sign to renew the Jihad. For almost a decade the Caliphate fleet enjoyed unprecedented success in battle with the Hazat, as the Vera Cruz system remained scarcely defended due to the Hazat’s involvement in the Emperor Wars. When the Emperor Wars finally ended in 4995 the Hazat gave the Kurgan front its complete attention, and the Kurgan advance was soon routed and the Hazat descended upon Hira in full force. By this time Caliph Hulagulu had died (4992) and in 4993 a new descendant of the first Caliph had ascended the throne – Juhangiz XXIV. Caliph Juhangiz XXIV found that Sata Natura’s Philosopher’s Stone had been lost, and that the Kurga Caliphate had lost its ability to fall upon the Known Worlds at will. 

The war between the Hazat and the Kurga Caliphate has become a conflict of two parts. The Hazat dominate the ground war for Hira and have made massive advances over the last decade. Hira space is however the domain of the Caliphate and under the control of the Kurgan Armada effectively cutting off the Hazat supply lines and propagate raids against Vera Cruz.

Kurgan Culture

The values of Kurgan culture are those of the nomad, reflecting an ever-shifting balance between personal independence and responsibility to one’s community. Five centuries of increasing urbanization under Caliphal rule has pushed each ideal to its extreme, extending the notion of community beyond just the tribe or neighborhood to include the geographical region, the inhabited world, and ultimately the entire Kurga Caliphate, resulting in a view that is at once provincial and cosmopolitan. 
While all strangers are met with courtesy and hospitality, all relationships are in Kurgan culture marked by an assessment of personal merit. The primary virtue is to know one’s job and do it well; this is in stark contrast to the hereditary social positions of the Phoenix Empire. Still, the practical reality is that since most youths get their training and resources from their family and clan, they also tend to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Although some jobs are regarded as more desirable than others, there is no philosophical discrimination or prioritizing of work in the Kurgan society; a horse tamer is as respected as a merchant and a farmer as respected as a warrior – as long as the job is performed with conviction and skill. 

Gender

Gender seldom becomes an issue in Kurgan society, where sexual roles have been carefully defined in law and custom for centuries. Men and women are accorded equal access to status, property, wealth, inheritance, and rights under law, but practice their professions separately, mixing only when necessary and having no close contact with the opposite sex outside their own clan. Each gender has its own customs, myths, mysteries and rites of passage, which must not be revealed to the other, and those who associate too closely with the opposite sex in public may become objects of scorn and scandal.

The Kurgan Society

The Kurgan Caliphate is a society organized in a strong caste system, with each cast or “Ordu” (derives from the Urthish word “horde”) dictating a person’s profession and rights. Most Kurgans choose to join and marry into the same social cast as their parents; it is possible of a young adult to seek entry to another ordu and provided they pass the tests they will be accepted. 

Once initiated into an ordu it becomes that Kurgan’s home for life and not even the Caliph has the power to order an individual to leave his ordu and join another one. In all likelihood he will marry within the ordu and his children will also follow his path. This leads to some level of local inbreeding with particular body types becoming common identifiers for those of that social cast.

Ordu’l-Diin – “The Faithful Horde”: Although not a separate cast, the Ordu’l-Diin is used to designate those of Kurgan descent, or more specifically anyone who acknowledges and submits to the spiritual and temporal authority of the Caliph. Those who share the Faith (“El-Diin”) are free to live where and however they will, so long as they fulfill communal responsibilities (work, paying taxes, obeying local laws), return to the Caliphate any goods or service they can spare, and give alms to those less fortunate. A Faithful One may, once during her life, declare herself a hajji, or pilgrim. 

Ordu Bagatur – “The Valiant Horde”: These are professional soldiers of the Caliph, also including police, personal security and raiding forces. The ordu is sworn to protect anyone on a pilgrimage. They are permitted by law to carry weapons of war (otherwise forbidden in most Kurgan communities), thought this is often restricted to low tech weapons. In times of war these warriors can be called to fight for the Caliph and may be authorized to use high tech weaponry. Most members of the Ordu Bagatur are physically larger than their fellow citizens, both taller and more muscular.

Ordu Kibituk – “Wide Wagons”: The merchant class of Kurgan society, and includes any who trade, from the humblest shopkeeper to the most powerful magnate. The Caliphs law does not prohibit the accumulation of wealth but all merchants are required to give a portion of their profits away as alms for the poor above and beyond that of other Kurgans. In times of war or crisis the Caliph may redistribute wealth as he sees fit. Amongst the Ordu Kibituk obesity is considered a symbol of success, much more so than the amount of coin a merchant actually holds.

Ordu Kankali – “High Carts”: The entertainer class of Kurgan society. Artists and entertainers of all types are held in high regard for their talents. Though the Caliph may at times censor certain themes in Kankali works, the entertainers pay fewer taxes and are free to travel as they wish. They are also exempt from local traditions regarding social decorum and dress. Amongst the Ordu Kankali most are of athletic and slender body shapes. 

Ordu Bachinghai – “Nimble Fingers”: The crafter class of Kurgan society. Craftsmen of all types are represented by this ordu. These people are taxed based upon their volume of business and may be ordered to relocate to an area in need of their particular talents by the Caliph. Members of the Ordu Bachinghai compose a wide variety of body types, although most are strong and nimble.

Ordu Fellahin – “Broad Backs”: The laborer class of Kurgan society. These unskilled workers are the backbone of Kurgan society performing all manner of tasks from farming, to construction and portage of goods. Like the Ordu Bachinghai they may be ordered to relocate to where they are most needed, and many indeed live quite nomadic lives as they trek from assignment to assignment. They pay a flat tax based on their wages. Amongst the Ordu Fellahin most are of large well-developed bodies with gigantism being relatively common.

Ordu Asmurdlegh – “The Stinking Ones”: An unclean class within Kurgan society. This is a special class reserved for those who practice certain professions (slaughterers, tanners, undertakers, sewage workers, etc) and who as a result may be considered unclean or may exude an unpleasant odor. They are required by tradition to live apart, and to wear heavily perfumed robes when amongst others. This is actually not seen as a slur but as a compliant and a privilege to be accorded special treatment, and the Asmurdlegh have full legal rights and standing.

Ordu Hekelezai – “The Touched”: A class of the divinely inspired within Kurgan society. They are not priests as would be recognized in the Phoenix Empire, but they are considered to have wisdom and revelation even if some are unable to communicate it clearly. They may be ascetic hermits, scholastic mystics, fakirs, tribal medicine men, or simply the village idiot who hears voices in his head. This ordu is expected to exist on community charity. The Caliph has been known to consult with wise members of this ordu on matters of importance, and the Hekelezai are the only social class with the right to criticize the Caliph publically.

Ordu Sechemin – “The Wise”: The teacher, scholar, and scientist class of Kurgan society, the Sechemin is the most policed of all the casts. They often lead cloistered or monastic lives dedicated to one specific area of knowledge. Although the Caliphate has no true priestly cast, the Ordu Sechenim fulfill much the same function, being scholars of morality and keepers of arcane knowledge. They do not officiate at religious ceremonies more than any other Ordu however. This ordu is further sub-divided into different Ikhwan (schools): Ikhwan-i-Hakimum (healers), Ikhwan-i-Waziri (advisors), Ikhwan-i-Qadiyum (judges), Ikhwan-i-Takhiyun (artificers), Ikhwan-i-Ghamizi (astronomers), and the Ikhwan-i-Sihr (spies).

Ordu Kafiri – “Unbelievers”: The unbelievers’ class of Kurgan society, encompassing anyone who submits to the Caliphs political power without recognizing his religious authority. These include pagan groups, ambassadors from non-Kurgan worlds, and converts to the Universal Church of the Celestial Sun. Those who follow other faiths are forbidden to speak of their beliefs in public and the Kafiri are required to signal their status with tattoos. In Kurgan religion one cannot be excommunicated (cut of from salvation and sacraments) in the same way as in the Universal Faith, however, one can be declared kafir (“infidel”) by a legal court or by ones superiors. This has social implications only, as one is cast out of ones ordu and regarded as one of the Kafiri, which places restrictions on things like marriage and access to political and martial positions in the society. Being “demoted” from a proper Kurgan ordu to Ordu Kafiri carries the same penalties as excommunication form the Universal Faith.

Kurgan Culture Skills
Culture skills for Kurga Caliphate mirror those of the Phoenix Empire. A Kurgan character would be expected to have Culture (Kurga Caliphate); Culture (social cast), selecting a Kurgan ordu; and Culture (planet), selecting one of the Kurgan worlds. Note that few within the Caliphate learn Culture skills related to other social casts. Kurgan character would have to take a Tutelage Contract benefit to be permitted to learn about an ordu other than his own (this usually only occurs with the Ikhwan-i-Sihr, the spies), although characters who have spent a great deal of time with a foreign cast might also purchase this benefit.

Restricted Skills in the Kurga Caliphate
Some skills are listed as restricted to Noble, Church or League. These restrictions don’t really apply to the Kurgans in the same way. The Ordu Sechemin may learn skills without restriction, and those belonging to the Ordu Kibituk and Ordu Bagatur may learn League skills without restriction, while those of any other ordu require a Tutelage Contract benefice to learn restricted skills.

Hierarchy

The ruler of the Kurgans is the Caliph, a Prophet-King who’s acts are an example to all his people with every Kurgan aspiring to be the caliph of her own life. The position of Caliph is for life although it is not hereditary; instead each Caliph nominates his own successor. Above all else, the Caliph is a religious figure, a living prophet, who occupies the intersection where human (i.e. Kurgan) society reflects the divine hierarchy. Indeed, the majority of past Caliphs were holy hermits and local saints before being named to succeed the reigning Caliph. The Caliph, possessed of insight into both the visible and invisible worlds, has the final word on all matters, and only those who agree to submit to his or her word are allowed to exist in Kurgan space. While outsiders recognize the utter tyranny of the Caliphate, the Kurgan people see it as the most ennobling aspect of its culture. 

The Kuriltai
The high court of the Caliphate is the Kuriltai, composed of its highest-ranking and wisest members of the Ordus, retired Khans, trusted advisors and close friends of the Caliph. The Kuriltai function as an extension of the Caliph, being to some extent empowered to speak and act on the Caliph’s behalf. Tradition holds that only a true Caliph can recognize the next in the line of Prophetic Succession, but sometimes a Caliph may die before naming a successor, and then it is the Kuriltai who is charged with the duty of discovering the new prophet.

The Khanate
Rulers within the Caliphate are collectively known as the Khanate; unlike the Phoenix Empire, heredity is not a prerequisite, and the divine right to rule is reserved for the Caliph alone. These are divided according to rank, from the lowest to highest, thus: Shaykh (leader of a group, clan, or village); Khan (rules a larger tribe, group of villages, small province, or a city district); Ilkhan (governs larger provinces and small cities); Khaghan (rules tribal nations, provincial territories and large cities); Sultan (planetary overlord).

The position of shaykh is largely heritable. While candidates for khan and ilkhan are usually chosen from among the local shaykhs, their position must be acknowledge by a higher authority (usually the planet’s sultan), and a Sultan must be confirmed by the Caliph personally. An appointment to the Khanate comes with a predetermined duration, although those who can govern effectively, maintaining stability and generating the greatest benefit to the populace, may have their term of office extended for life – sometimes against their wishes. 

Technology

The Caliph alone possesses the wisdom to grasp the long-term effects of various technologies, and employs the Ikhwan-i-Takhiyun artificers to strictly regulate its use. By Caliphal decree alone may a cybernetic device be installed into the broken flesh of a servant, an advanced Think Machine (“djinn-box”) assigned to an enlightened user, or a powerful weapon be lent to a Bagatur on a mission that requires it. Each ordu, however, has a dispensation for the tools of its trade, with the most advanced devices used only by the khans and under severe penalties for abuse and misuse. Certain types of vehicles are often forbidden for environmental reasons, although the Caliph has lifted ancient taboos to allow more progressive and convenient technologies. The ban on golems was lifted early in Caliph Juhangiz XXIV’s reign, and has recently been extend to grant golems formal acceptance as citizens of the Ordu Kafiri. Likewise, Misfits are accepted and tolerated in the Caliphate, and are openly accepted within all ordus.

Drugs

Most types of intoxicants known can be found in the Caliphate, and the majority of them are legal in most regions, for most ordus. Hedonism aside, most Kurgans feel that for every social occasion, every dreaded chore or pleasant pastime, the Star-Maker has provided a substance to ease bodily discomfort or enhance necessary mental qualities, if one but understands their proper use. Ikhwan-i-Hakimum healers frequently prescribe all sorts of drugs for various conditions and ailments, but just as frequently prohibit their patients from further use of their favorite inebriants. Consequently, addiction is common among Kurgans but without being identified as a problem due to the social context in which it occurs. Most Kurgans smoke tubaq, an addictive weed with mild depressant effects, grown in massive quantities on Tsuma, while some prefer the stronger effects of chewing qoqa leafs or beans, or drinking the thick black qoqa tea, or smoking hasheesh made from the qunab flower. 

El-Diin – Kurgan Religion

The Kurgans call their religion El-Diin, meaning “the (perfect) way of life” or “justified conduct”. It is not simply a system of belief, nor is it a simple set of religious commandments, for El-Diin encompass these concepts as well as many others. It might perhaps be best understood as an overreaching philosophy for, and approach to living, which also include secular ethics, myth and spiritual speculation, magic, wisdom traditions, practical advice for everyday business such as agriculture, husbandry, human relations, and much more. El-Diin is therefore an elusive concept hard to define and quantify, which has left some scholars to compare it to the Ur-Obun philosophical principle of Kelanti.

Like the Universal Faith the El-Diin venerates Zebulon, known to the Kurgan’s as Zaibolu, the prophet of the Celestial Sun. Kurgan belief holds that their worlds had already been settled during the early Diaspora, and that Zaibolu and Palu (Saint Paulus) made the first pilgrimage by traversing the Jumproads between Hira and Irem. Along the way, Zaibolu befriended holy hermits, local saints and religious leaders, and eventually named one of them as his successor to tend the spiritual needs of the peoples of the sacred Jumproute. It became the custom of each caliph to travel in the steps of Zaibolu, and soon the tradition of pilgrimage was born. 

El-Diin has no priests as such, recognizing no intercessor between humanity and divinity other than the personage of the Caliph. Although some ordus specialize in studying sacred literature and meditate on metaphysics, no single profession is considered more enlightened than another for every role in life is sacred. The gathering of knowledge can certainly help one to know El-Ilum (“The Father-God”), but so can dance, commerce and soldiering if practiced with the same piety and devotion. Every ordu has its own saints, martyrs and holy men, who not only serve as role models for those who follow their path but also exemplify the virtues of their ordu to others.

The ceremonial requirements of El-Diin are relatively few and brief. Each day is punctuated at seven intervals by short prayers that mark time for meals, work, leisure and family similar to the Universal Church Day Cycle. Prayers are customarily made facing the raising sun or a local shrine or pilgrimage center, while in space prayers usually face the nearest or brightest sun. Local culture and personal piety sometimes compels individual Kurgans or communities to more elaborate ceremonies, meditations and preaching, but such is not required. There is no scriptural equivalent to the Omega Gospels in El-Diin, although historic documents, legal writings, folkloric tales and oral traditions of past heroes (like Zaibolu, former Caliphs, holy men and local saints) are recounted as inspiration, education and as guides to living. 

El-Diin numbers the years of its calendar starting at the liberation of Irem from Vuldrok occupation in 4473; thus the Universal Church year 5010 would be 537 according to the Caliphal calendar, and the Day of Revelation and Reckoning, the Kurgan version of the Eskaton, is prophesied to occur in the one-thousandth year of the Caliphate, or 5473 in the Universal Church calendar. 

The cosmology of El-Diin recognizes the Mongke Yildiz (“Everlasting Star”) as the source and master of all things. The similarities to the Celestial Sun is so compelling that many Church theologians regards the El-Diin as heretical rather than a separate religion altogether. Contrary to the Universal Faith however, El-Diin identifies Mongke Yildiz as an actual position in real interstellar space, the light of which can be seen from the systems of Hira and Irem, while at the same time viewing it as a trans-dimensional space or heaven. The El-Diin equivalent of the Pancreator is never named directly but only referred to by titles, such as “Maker of Stars”, “Light Eternal”, “Source of Bounty”, “Wonder of Wonders”, “All-Maker”, or “the Father-God” (El-Ilum), none of which are regarded as surnames for the deity but rather functions of its being and majesty. Any attempt to personify or anthropomorphize El-Ilum is deemed blasphemous, but despite this certain mystic sects practice occultism and mysticism in where naming and self-identification with the deity is a form of piety.

El-Diin teaches that serving El-Ilum is a group of beings known as bogdo, beings of light that resembles closely the empyrean angels of the Universal Faith, who live in the “Land of Light”, Nuristan. Depicted as rays of light emanating from the Mongke Yildiz, the bogdo are identified with the immutable laws of the physical universe and are believed to be the intermediaries between El-Ilum and mankind. Another category of spirit beings are the kelet (singular: kele), elemental beings that inhabit features of the landscape such as mountains, rivers, trees, wadis (desert valleys), or simply disembodied intelligences. Kelet can enter the minds of receptive mortals and teach secrets of power, wisdom and truth. Some mystics seek communion with the kelet, although exposure usually leads to madness in one form or another. Kelet who honor Mongke Yildiz, respect the authority of the Caliph and act relatively benign are called djinn, as opposed to the lawless and violent afrit who feed on fear, rage and lust. Humans may also be possessed by sulde, the shades of the deceased who have neither returned to the Mongke Yildiz nor been lost to the outer darkness. 

Interstellar space, the outer darkness between the stars, is the ultimate abode of evil in El-Diin. Known as Kanun Khudan, “the Land of Dark Gods”, it is ruled by the cunning and twisted Erlik Khan and encircled by his mount, the endless serpent Mughai whose coils loop around every star except the Mongke Yildiz. The writhing of Mughai generates the Purga Burna, or Black Freezing Wind, which can cool the stars and dim their light, and causes the hearts of the wicked and faithless to shrivel and harden until the rays of the Mongke Yildiz can no longer penetrate. Erlik Khan can assume a variety of forms and walk among the world spreading fear, doubt, grief and anger until he is recognized and his form is destroyed by the wise and righteous. 

Hajj: Pilgrimage of the Consecrated Jumpweb

The pilgrimage is the life-blood of Kurgan society, both in an economic as well as a spiritual sense. Since the 38th century, the Hajj has strengthened the communal bond among Kurgans from widely different worlds, backgrounds and traditions. To claim the title of hajji – one who has completed the pilgrimage – is a great social distinction, and a virtual prerequisite for appointment to the khanate and other local positions. To falsely claim the title is a tongue-plucking offense. 

The Hajj embodies a mystical belief nearly identical to the Doctrine of Stellar Consecration held by the Universal Church, which states that the Prophet’s death in a Jumpgate accident was a sacrifice that blessed the Jumpweb and made space travel safer for humanity. The Kurgan version focuses on Zaibolu’s act of naming a successor charged with keeping the Hira-Irem Jumproute open so the double light of the Mongke Yildiz reaching these two worlds could be shone via the Jumpweb to the rest of human space. 

Ideally the Hajj begins on Hira and ends at Irem, but war with the Hazat has made the Hira leg of the pilgrimage extremely dangerous. In recent years, the title of hajj has been awarded to any who have journeyed to holy sites on Irem and one or more worlds other than their own; a special title – mahajji – is awarded to those few who actually complete the entire circuit between Hira and Irem. 

The climax of the Hajj comes the moment the pilgrims ship exits the Jumpgate in the Irem system, filling over a quarter of the sky around Irem is the Sahab-i-Simurgh Nebula. Many pilgrims faint or break down and weep at this point in their journey, as the sight of this interstellar panorama seen “up close” and is sometimes accompanied by mystical insights. The nebula is composed of billows of vibrantly colored gases forming the wings and tail of the Simurgh lion-bird hybrid that is a central image of Kurga, with a curl of dark dust forming the silhouette of the head and neck. It is illuminated from within by a protostar believed to be the Mongke Yildiz, with its light rays fans out into a distinct peacock-tail array.

Occultism in the Kurga Caliphate
Overall Kurgans have a higher tolerance and respect for occult powers than the citizens of the Phoenix Empire. The Ordu’l-Diin makes no distinction between psychic powers and theurgy, judging only the intent with which occult powers are used not their source. The Shir (spies) and Ghamizi (astronomers) Ikhawans understand the difference somewhat, and make an effort to recruit, study and train gifted psychics. Ordu elders sometimes arrange marriages between gifted members with the result that some ordus have an above average number of certain types of psychics than others; for instance, amongst the Bagatur and Fellahin certain families show aptitude for FarHand and Soma. Theurgy rites can be found amongst the members of all ordus but most often within the Ordu Hekelezai (“The Touched”) the most powerful rites are often taught by the Ordu Sechenim (“The Wise”). 

El-Diin Theurgy
Kurgan theurgy will be detailed in an upcoming supplement, but for now you may assume that members of a particular ordu may sometimes learn lesser rites corresponding with a certain Universal Church saint. The casual approach to occultism among the Kurgans ensure that little organized training and instruction is available, resulting in only low Threshold rites being available to most practitioners. The Ordu Sechenim teaches more powerful rites and also sometimes practices theurgical operations. 
Ordu Asmurdlegh: Rites of Saint Hombor the Beggar
Ordu Bachinghai: Rites of Saint Ven Lohji
Ordu Bagatur: Rites of Mantius the Soldier
Ordu Fellahin: More practical Rites of Saint Hombor the Beggar and Saint Paulus the Traveler
Ordu Kafiri: Practice no El-Diin theurgy, as they (mostly) worship other faiths.
Ordu Kankali: Rites of Saint Ven Lohji
Ordu Kibituk: Rites of Saint Paulus the Traveler
Ikhwan-i-Ghamizi: Rites of Saint Horace the Learned Man
Ikhwan-i-Hakimun: Rites of Saint Amalthea the Healer
Ikhwan-i-Hekelezai: Rites of Saint Hombor the Beggar 
Ikhwan-i-Qadiyate: Rites of Saint Maya The Scorned Woman
Ikhwan-i-Sihr: Rites of Saint Maya The Scorned Woman
Ikhwan-i-Takhiyun: Rites of Saint Horace the Learned Man
Ikhwan-i-Waziri: Rites of Saint Horace the Learned Man
The above should not be taken as an absolute rule, and some mixing of Saint’s rites might be appropriate to certain characters.

Current Relations with the Phoenix Empire

The Kurga Caliphate represents a military, political, and ideological threat to the Phoenix Empire. Despite this danger both the Emperor and the Patriarch are reluctant to directly confront the forces of the Caliph. Instead the threat has been largely ignored and left to the Hazat to stave off. Some suggest that this is a deliberate strategy designed to keep the Hazat occupied, while others observe the spiraling costs of the war and ask how much longer the Hazat can continue to finance it.

The Muster have made massive profits supplying troops for the Kurgan front and the Hazat have gifted much captured territory to retired soldiers or sold of tracts of land to minor houses (including Shelit, Chaulki and others). Such a strategy ensures both an income from the spoils of war and a willingness on the part of the new owner to defend his claim with troops and resources of their own.

The Kurgan military strategy was initially poorly coordinated and resulted in large Hazat territorial gains on the world. Only the seemingly erratic nature of the Hira jumpgate prevented a full-scale invasion in centuries past.

When the Hira Jumpgate reactivated during the Emperor Wars (4987) the Hazat became hard pressed on two fronts, leaving the Kurgans free to raid Hazat space with little fear of retribution. When the Emperor Wars ended (4995), the Hazat were able to gather their full strength and press their advantage. The Kurgan response was disorganized and poorly equipped and lead to a quagmire of guerilla fighting and resistance to the advancing Hazat. While the Hazat focused on fighting and making gains in the land war the Kurgans were forced to step back and reevaluate the situation, leaving much of the resistance to the native Hirans who have cause to resist both parties.

Unable to achieve victory in a series of poorly planned ground offensives, the Kurgan leadership conceived an alternative strategy, one that involved understanding how their enemy organizes and plans. Intelligence gathering has become an ever more important tool for the Kurgans and over the years they have worked to build an efficient network of spies and informants within the Hazat worlds and beyond into the Phoenix Empire.

Spies have sent back valuable intelligence on the disposition of Hazat forces and more crucially the political ties and relationships between the Hazat and the rest of the Empire. A display of overwhelming threat too early would only serve to unit the Empire and justify Hazat calls for crusade. Only when the Hazat are on their knees, buckling under the crippling financial burden of their campaign will the Caliph be able to force them to the negotiating table or press them with overwhelming military force.
The Kurgan Armada has now been deployed to the Hira system effectively blockading the Hazat resupply effort. Smaller raiding fleets have advanced bases in the Vera Cruz system and making sporadic attacks against shipping in that system. The Hazat have so far managed to conceal the full extent of the Kurgan counter offensive afraid that they might appear weak and invite an attack from one or other of the other Royal Houses. The truth is that neither than Caliphate nor the Hazat can afford to continue with the current level of offensive for much longer before something has to give. The Hazat are close to bankruptcy, while the Caliph is on the verge of loosing control of his own worlds as his military strength is massed in the Hira system. 

Money

The third Caliph, Ogadai the Fat, standardized the monetary system throughout the Caliphate. Before then, each world retained a confusing array of local coinage, including Second Republic credits. The standard unit is now a dinar, roughly equivalent to a firebird. Then there is the sheql, 10 of which make a dinar, and the dirham, 10 of which make a sheql. As of yet, there is no standard acceptable exchange rate for firebirds to dinars.

Domain of the Caliphate

The Kurga Caliphate dominates an area of the jumpweb beyond the territories of the Hazat, and has been involved in a war with that house for possession of Hira. Until recently Kurgan raiders had not ventured past Hira, which led the Hazat to be complacent about their security. However a number of forward raiding groups have now established bases of operation in the asteroid belt in the Vera Cruz system and has been hitting Hazat conveys of the past year. 

Khayyam
Star: Raeh (yellow-white star)
System: Umar (0.38AU), Sishary/Kaduls (0.73AU), Khayyam (1.20AU; Nizam, Hasan), Esmarit (3.21AU; Dhaun, Mahr-Lu, Baakun), Bulayik (7.81AU; Bayroun, Tcheli, Al Qiits, Khulrij, 7 other moons), Nitzech (17.03AU), Kwaido (33.08AU; Rings, Uwarid, Alif Rimaan, Furaydeh, Qalindargul, 4 other moons), Buruz (59.06AU; 47 moons), Alyut (71.02AU), Jumpgate (88.03AU)
Jumps: Al Fashir (warning: Kurgan world), Hira
Capital: Azhar
Resources: industry, agriculture
Exports: foods, textiles, weapons tech, industrial tech, vehicles

Important People:
Saji Sakhr al-Makin: There are few who have challenged the social structures of the Ordus as Saji Sakhr al-Makin. Born to parents of the Ordu Bagatur, but adopted into the Ordu Sechenim having passed the trials. It is said that his intellect surpasses that of any other man in the Caliphate and some believe him blessed. It seems only fitting that he should travel in the footsteps of Heru Abdalim and seek to solve the problems of his world through intellect alone. As administrator of the Madrasa al-Azhar he is said to be gathering all worldly learning into one place, to make the university a rival to the institutions of the Second Republic.

Overview:
Khayyam was a naturally Urth-like world when discovered, though after centuries of human habitation, the Second Republic installed environmental engines to counter the build up of industrial pollutants and restore the world to its paradise status (3753). The planet has only a slight axial tilt, with mild seasons, small polar ice caps and broad temperate zones covered in grassland plains and light forests. The planet’s landmass comprises approximately 30% of its surface, and is divided into six continents. The flora and fauna of Khayyam closely resembles that of Urth, few indigenous species survive to the present, having been displaced by imported Urthish stock.

Discovered shortly after Sathra’s Boon (ca. 2500), the jumproad between Sutekh and Khayyam a major trade route during the Diaspora. Although the jumproad is believed to be open between these two worlds, all jumpkeys for this route ceased to function sometime during the early Foundation Era (ca. 3050). Khayyam was a seat of learning during the late Diaspora and the early Second Republic and many great intellects were educated it its universities, amongst them Heru Abdalim (Saint Horace). The Madrasa al-Azhar university was the resting place of Saint Horace's "Book of Revealings", and a place of pilgrimage early faithful of the Universal Church (ca. 2900). During civil unrest in 4819, Kutukti Baghira entrusted the sacred book and many other lesser relics into the care of the Caliph.

The current population of Khayyam counts some 3 billion souls, and is a very cosmopolitan culture having influences from countless worlds spanning the history of human interstellar travel. The world’s infrastructure remains high tech with a democratic world government and advanced communication and transport network. 

Although subordinated to the Caliph, Khayyam had been at odds with the Caliphate for centuries, formally declared its independence in 4998. This independence is primarily political and philosophical. As a result, Khayyam is currently ruled by local and global representative democracies, although the world remains subordinated to the Caliph and the Caliphate controls all travel and off-world resources in the Khayyam system.

Al Fahsir
Star: Shams (yellow-orange star)
System: Koba (0.53AU), Al Fashir (0.93AU; Gasim, Da’ud), Zamzara Belt (3.1-4.7AU), Hatar (7.90AU), Jamshid (18.05AU; 34 moons), Ziri (31.05AU; Rings, 14 moons), Jumpgate (47.08AU), Ranzim (17.8-62AU elliptical orbit currently 19.4AU)
Jumps: Beliah (warning: Kurgan world), Khayyam (warning: Kurgan world)
Capital: Rub al-Harim
Resources: ores, minerals
Exports: Refined ores

Important People
The Agha Khalif: The ruler of the desert nomad population lead by the Dwa Regh clan. It is a rival caliphal title to the Caliph, the Agha Khalif was recognized as a spiritual equal by the fifth Caliph, Sulayman Darumai (c.4410-4591), but has scarcely been tolerated since. The current Agha Khalif has waged a war against the Sultan of Al Fashir for the past three decades and now rules the entire planet from his seat in Uwandibad. Soon the Caliph will be forced to deal with him directly and the Agha Khalif prepares for the day when all Kurgans will look upon Al Fashir and recognize his authority.
Kosru Ak Bogha: The Sultan of Al Fashir, Ak Bogha is all but a prisoner in his capitol at Rub al-Harim as his planet has steadily fallen to the Agha Khalif. The aging Ak Bogha rests unsteadily atop a heavily armed and volatile populace. His desperate attempts to maintain his power in the last decade have utterly failed. Now he rules the capitol alone while trying to conceal the true extent of his failures from the Caliph. 

Overview:
Al Fashir is predominantly a desert world dominated by the huge Dasht-i-Marghu desert (“Desert of Death”), punctuated with mountain ranges and ice-covered polar caps that alternate drastically in size as the harsh seasons melt and refreeze them. The melt water form the glaciers irrigate vast tracts of desert giving rise to great rivers and grasslands. Al Fashir has weaker gravity than most other habitable worlds (about 0.82 G), giving rise to sheer mountain ridges with knife-edge crags and to a population of above average in height.

A corporate survey team discovered Al Fashir in 3504 and its existence was kept secret when Bjorn Egon bought out the company, along with survey information for Beliah. Rather than reveal the existence of the world, Egon instead established his own colonial efforts that were eventually discovered by the Second Republic in 3770. A Republican liberation force moved in and took over the planet, but many of Al Fashir’s population actively resisted or escaped into the deserts and asserted their own Badu culture. Al Fashir is noted for being the birthplace of the Kurgan folk hero Sata Natura (3940) and the location where she hid the Hira Gatestone (3997), before its recovery by Juhangiz (4466).

The mysterious Dwa Regh people play a vital role in Al Fashir, and indeed Kurgan history, and even their enemies universally consider them the heart of the Kurgan heritage. More than half the planets 70 million population is desert nomads or city-dwelling descendants thereof. The largest cities are filthy over-crowded cesspools of diseased humanity and the Hajj has slowed to a trickle in the past century. Pilgrims are forbidden from carrying weapons and most sorts of technology, but are assured safe passage and hospitality. In recent years the desert nomad tribes have waged war against the city-states and unified the planet under the rule of the Agha Khalif, with the exception of Rub al-Harim which is still held by Sultan Kosru Ak Bogha on the Caliph’s behalf. 

The Dwa Regh practice a semi-heretical version of El-Diin, the Agha Khalif rules according to private visions instead of Caliphal demand. In the 50th century the Dwa Regh people allied with other desert tribes to wage war on desert border communities and eventually lay siege to Uwandibad, the second largest city on Al Fashir. Uwandibad fell in 4974 and has become the capital of the Agha Khalif. Since then the united desert hordes have laid political and military pressure on other communities throughout the world. The Sultan of Al Fashir has concealed the extent of his failing form the Caliph but it is only a matter of time before Khanate become aware of the truth. 

Beliah
Star: Ha-eloh (orange star) 
System: Dagoth (0.87AU), Beliah (1.30AU; Jabar, Achmet), Adagasca (4.30AU), Chadash (13.07AU), Ginugul (29.05AU), Jumpgate (37.01AU)
Jumps: Irem (warning: Kurgan world), Al Fashir (warning: Kurgan world)
Capital: Akenosh
Resources: ores, minerals
Exports: Refined ores, precious metals, unique minerals (Implastrite)

Important People:
Haaziq al-Khidash: The untimely death of the Sultan of Beliah left a power vacuum that needed to be filled. Normally the title would have been passed to his oldest heir and be confirmed by the Caliph. Sultan Mahakim Sazeb al-Abdul-Qawi however has left no eligible successors, his own sons to young to administer the planet. Haaziq al-Khidash as his most trusted general has been appointed to rule in the name of Rabi al-Abdul-Qawi until he comes of age.

Overview:
Beliah resembles the planet Mars in the Holy Terra system, but with a higher gravity (about 1.22 G). Volcanic activity has shaped great conical mountains and left the mantel of the planet honeycombed with caverns, many of which have been developed for habitation. Though there are nomads in the desert wastes, most of the planet’s population lives in great cities dug into old volcanoes and dormant lava tubes. 

Beliah was discovered in 3504 at the same time as Al Fashir and its colonial efforts also kept secret as part of Bjorn Egon’s attempt to build a private empire. Initially colonization on Beliah was limited to underground construction as the surfaced lacked an atmosphere; terraforming efforts did eventually bring about a breathable atmosphere (c. 3600) and produce the few bodies of open water on the world’s surface. When the Second Republic liberated the world (c. 3770), dissidents seeking to escape Republican rule escaped to the surface. With the Fall the world descended into barbarism and civil war. When the Vuldrok invaded they met with mostly feeble resistance from underground kingdoms more interested in fighting each other than the invaders. It was Juhangiz Turhan who eventually tamed the underground population of Beliah during his first pilgrimage (4470). He introduced the scattered desert nomads on the surface and the unconquered underground kingdoms to their “kurgan” brethren from other worlds. United by their shared hatred of the Vuldrok embittered enemies and outlanders from distant stars united to drive the invaders out.

Beliah has a postulated population of 230 million. The higher gravity and generations spent living underground have shaped the human population of Beliah. Most are short and stocky, and the subterranean population typically have pale almost pallid complexions, while the surface dwelling nomads are darker skinned. Although Beliah has enjoyed relative peace under the Caliphate, old habits die-hard and the culture here is still essentially warlike.

Irem
Star: Noor (yellow star)
System: Azumt (0.70AU), Irem (2.10AU; Artificial Rings, Ubar, Ilderim, Ayin-i-Simurgh), Dzimbulu (4.41AU; Zoth, Koth), Cambalu (9.81AU; Rings, 27 moons), Bagai (27.0AU; Rings, 12 moons), Ayiza (46.05AU), Jumpgate (53.02AU)
Jumps: Tsuma (warning: Kurgan world), Antioch (warning: Barbarian world), Rukh (warning: Kurgan world), Beliah (warning: Kurgan world)
Capital: Irem Zat el-Amad
Resources: tourism, agriculture
Exports: weapons tech, politics, fashion, quality and luxury

Important People:
Caliph Juhangiz XXIV: Born Juhangiz Urdai Mangu-Batu Turhan, the 24th in the direct line of descent from the founder of the Caliphate, he was trained to rule since birth and also received rigorous tutorage in the mystic arts. When the former Caliph, Hulagulu the Hekelet perished in 4992, Juhangiz was put forward as a candidate by his allies among the Kuriltai, receiving the title in 4993. It is said that on the day of his ascension the Caliph had a vision that it would be he who would finish Khabir’s Jihad and capture Vera Cruz. To this end, he has poured much of his resources into the war effort, assembling a great Kurgan Armada, and authorizing the Ordu Bagatur to carry high-tech weaponry. 

Overview: 
Like much of the solar system, the planet Irem was heavily terraformed and astroformed (artificially placed and modified in relation to the rest of the solar system). The world’s rings are artificial constructed of tiny beads of iridescent plastic confetti both as an expression or artistry and to stabilize the tidal pull of the planet. The artificial rings cast the landscape in shades of blue. Also its third moon, Ayin-i-Simurgh is a large manufactured satellite, a polished sphere only a hundred miles across. While not technically part of the solar system, the Sahab-i-Simurgh is the most predominant feature of Irem’s skies, its outermost extremities filling half of the space seen from the Jumpgate.

Discovered in 3520, Irem became the centre of Egon’s private empire, and it remains the capital world of the Caliphate to this day. Liberated in 3770 by Republican forces, the world became an immediate draw for tourists drawn to its sculpted environment. In 3780 the Sahab-i-Simurgh was confirmed as being Nebula RAS-333W89 just visible in the sky from Hira. The Vudrok invasion (4320) swept aside the post-Republican dynasties that had come to rule the planet, becoming a hub for further raids into neighboring worlds the next century. Juhangiz Turhan the man who would unite the Kurgan peoples and become the first Caliph was born in 4434 but it was not until 4471 that the Vuldrok were driven out and the Kurga Caliphate formally established in 4472.

It was the subject of the most extreme terraforming project to build a world of artificially beautiful. Described as the most scenic world on the Jumpweb during the Second Republic, exotic Irem has a culture steeped in artistic tradition. 

The entire capitol city of Irem Zat el-Amad (“The Many-Pillared Irem”) is the Caliph’s palace and center of the Kurgan Caliphate. The rulers of other regions on the planet see themselves merely as groundskeepers and householders of the living prophet. The citizens of Irem Zat el-Amad still live with the most common of comforts and conveniences preserved from Republican times. The flavor and tone of Iremite culture adjusts itself like trends of fashion to complement the personality and background of each succeeding Caliph, and currently take the form of a classical Kurgan aristocracy. But one factor remains constant – all the natives of Irem, of which there are over 1.5 billion, proudly consider themselves personal servants of the Caliph. 

Irem is the climax stop on the Hajj route, with the primary pilgrimage “site” being the system’s Jumpgate as Sahab-i-Simurgh nebula encompasses half the void beyond the gate.

Rukh
Star: Kizil-Yildiz (red supergiant star)
System: Marduq (15.7AU; Rukh, 66 other moons), Shiraz (29.32AU; Rings, 24 moons), Ghulistan (53.03AU), Jumpgate (71.06AU). 

Due to massive interference in the system, all navigation, and sensors goal rolls are made at -2, with increasing penalties during periods of intensified solar activity. 

Jumps: Irem (warning: Kurgan world), Sky Tear (warning: Kurgan world), Egg (warning: Kurgan world)
Capital: Simoriah
Resources: chemicals, minerals
Exports: chemicals, medical tech, vehicle tech, weapons tech

Important People:
Shemita Marduq: Born under a different name Shemita adopted “Marduq” to remind her of her home, the daughter of a foreman on one of the uthangir zero-g refineries. Said to be one of the great beauties of the present age, Shemita is an exotic woman and one of the few who has been able to turn the Caliphs attentions. She is in frequent attendance at the Caliph’s court and through her maneuverings Rukh has received considerable support and investment in recent years, including dispensations on the use of high technology.

Overview:
Rukh is a strange world, a large moon of the gas giant Marduq, Urth-like in size and gravity but made habitable to humans by exhaustive terraforming. The breathable portions of its artificial atmosphere extend a mere few miles above sea level and are covered in distinct strata of lighter gases. Rukh’s skies are thus perpetually enshrouded with vari-colored multi-layered clouds transparent enough to afford frequent glimpses of the looming bulk of Marduq and the dim Kizil-Yildiz (“Red Star”). 

Discovered in 3520, terraforming the world to make it accessible to human life began immediately. When the great world shaper Doramos (ca.3680-3809) visited Rukh (c.3800), he claimed that it had already been terraformed long ago by the Anunnaki, and that human interference could only be described as an “abomination”. The Vuldrok invasions that assaulted much of Kurgan space (c.4450) completely overlooks Rukh, Jugangiz makes contact with the Kurgan-speaking culture on Rukh (c.4480) and unites them against the Vuldrok.

The population of Rukh counts in the 150 millions, and they are renowned for being among the most devoted practitioners of El-Diin, and they are probably partly responsible for the reputation of Kurgan fanaticism in the Phoenix Empire. The commoners here work the mines and atmospheric harvesters as they have for over a millennia, living rigidly structured lives in which their jobs are viewed as acts of piety. The intelligentsia is quite small and their culture takes the form of obsessive biochemical engineers rather than an aristocracy. The nomadic Rukhites are descendants of a genetically engineered workforce designed to survive the pre-terraformed Rukh, and many of these would be considered Misfits in the Phoenix Empire. Enhanced senses, toughened skin, special immunities and modified respiration and/or digestion, while not common, tend to predominate in certain tribes. In general, Rukhites exhibit a mottled complexion and have a distinct odor similar to that of petro-chemical liquids. While outsiders usually find the Rukhites appearance disturbing, their Kurgan brethren tend to regard them as exotically beautiful.

Tsuma
Star: Ashur (orange star)
System: Tamuz (0.21AU), Dzilbuq (0.41AU), Tsuma (1.12AU; Spacestation: Starport Xanadu), Barida (5.62AU, 2 moons), Zurfan/Gharfan (36.99-37.01AU, 174 moons), Dzahab (48.03AU), Jumpgate (55.02AU)
Jumps: Irem (warning: Kurgan world)
Capital: Khorasan
Resources: agriculture, industry, trade, fashion
Exports: contraband, cybernetics tech, textiles

Important People:
Ungulliman Sulon: Ungulliman represents the ideal at the heart of all Tsumans. He was born with nothing and has gained everything he has through a mixture of political acumen and mercurial skill. Now the administrator of Starport Xanadu sits at the center of vast trade and underworld network and he sees little difference between his legal and illegal dealings, except that the illegal ones are more profitable.

Overview:
Tsuma is a naturally Urth-like world with a low axial tilt gifting it a mild turn of seasons. The world is dominated by the supercontinent Khwarezm surrounded by subcontinents, large islands and archipelagos. 

It was first colonized in 3525; Tsuma was conceived as a resort world. Even after it was absorbed into the Second Republic (3770) it continued to exist primarily as a tourist destination. The famed Starport Xanadu was constructed in orbit in c.3950. When the Fall came to Tsuma (c.4050) the population fractured in to piety fiefdoms. When the Vuldrok began raiding Tsuma (c.4350), they found the world too entrenched rivalries to unite against them, and today the populace is divided between “native” groups and those descending from Vuldrok settlers. 

The world sports a great number of Second Republic artifacts and even technological installations, including the enormous StarPort Xanadu, and much of its economic effort goes into maintaining these in lieu of a resource-based economy. The 3 billion strong population of Tsuma are often considered greedy, boorish, and vulgar. Indeed, the morals of Tsuma are the morals of the marketplace; culture and spirituality are discarded for the hard realities of profit and loss. The world is greatly dependant on trading for resources with other worlds has made Tsuma the commercial heart of the Caliphate. 
The merchant souls of the Tsuman people affects the pilgrimage itself, as nearly all Tsumans who travel off-world are considered quite wealthy by Kurgan standards, and custom dictates that their wealth be shared with their fellow pilgrims. Many who claim the title hajji have done so only after a single jump to Irem and back, and although this practice is acceptable on Tsuma other Kurgans regard such a brief and easy pilgrimage as an act of hypocrisy and impiety.

Egg
Star: Herm to the indigenous population; Umm Azza to the Kurgan colonists (yellow star) 
System: Emerida (0.6AU), Egg (1.0AU; Kazar, Manawe, Limothe), Sulke (32.4AU; 12 moons), Dolk (44.0AU, 3 moons), Jumpgate (62.45AU)
Jumps: Rukh (warning: Kurgan world)
Capital: Al-Kanar
Resources: forestry, agriculture, minerals
Exports: foods, textiles

Important People:
Ullaman Sek: A recent arrival on the world, Ullaman Sek is the newly appointed Sultan of Egg chosen from amongst the privileged of the Khanate. Sek is a portly man but one who is known for this shrewd political and business mind. So far he has fostered good relations with the Primaries hoping to use them in the exploitation of the world.

Overview:
Egg is a vast primeval fern jungle interspersed with broad plains. Lava flows from huge fissures that scar the planets surface, but despite the volcanic activity Egg is almost devoid of mountains.

Originally discovered by the Second Republic (c.3950), the world was colonized by terraformers who came to study the primordial world. With the coming of the Fall contact was lost with the world, until the it was rediscovered in 4958 by Caliphate explorers. Little of the planet’s history is known since the native humans discovered to already inhabit the world, the Primaries, are a primitive culture with very little writing. Still, the Primaries have a myth describing how they descend from Second Republic colonists who interbred with a native alien species called the Akraeii that has since become extinct. 
The first meetings between Kurgans and the natives resulted in violent conflict, but diplomatic envoys forged an agreement between the Caliphate and the Primaries. In return for the Primaries allowing the settling of colonists on the continent Elshabara, and for their nominal loyalty to the Caliph (as members of Ordu Kafiri), the Primaries were allowed to remain independent. Thus, while the Kurgans control certain regions, the majority of the world remains in the hands of natives. 

Over the years the Kurgan colonies have prospered and blossomed into cities, with the capital city al-Kanar boasting a sizeable spaceport. About 620,000 Kurgans now call Egg home, with new settlers arriving every year as the Caliph is hoping Egg might become a new major “bread basket” for the Caliphate. The number of Primaries on the planet is unknown, although estimates indicate about one million natives live in the wilderness. These people possess some unique physiological qualities, such as elongated fingers and cat-like night vision; Kurgan scholars believe them to be changed remnants of a Second Republic colonial effort.

Sky Tear
Star: Kyros (orange star)
System: Sirus (0.36AU), Sky Tear (1.16AU, spacestation: Caliphos), Magellan (5.25AU; Cignus), Cordax (9.72AU; Ukrops, DaChar, Zod), Twil (21.55AU), Kree (71.46AU; Tragos), Jumpgate (72.3AU)
Jumps: Rukh (warning: Kurgan world), Epiphany (warning: Barbarian world)
Capital: Oroba
Resources: forestry, minerals, ores, crystals
Exports: lumber, Muazi

Important People:
Salin al-Alef: Nominally the Sultan of Sky Tear, but the man refuses to set foot upon the world for fear of loosing his mind. Some suggest that his appointment by the Caliph is either a punishment or the demonstration of a sense of humor. Salin has at immense personal expense brought the once abandoned Caliphos research station back into use. Having had it towed from the out reaches of the solar system to orbit over Sky Tear. Its low orbit makes it clearly visible as a new star in the sky.

Overview: 
Sky Tear is a bizarre planet, a tropical world teeming with life underneath a cover of strange swirling gray and rainbow-colored clouds produced by vast geysers and localized wind currents. It has no moon and rotates on an axis with å perfect 0° inclination, causing the planet to have no changing seasons and the days and nights are clockwork regular. 

Sky Tear was discovered and studied by the Second Republic (c.3800), but proved difficult to harness as explorers went insane and often violently mad after staying only a short while on the surface, and the planet was soon abandoned but with a number of colonists going feral (c.3850). 

Few humans live on Sky Tear as visitors inevitably go mad after a relatively short stay. However, even the mad can sometimes govern themselves, organizing into small scattered pre-agrarian to medieval communities and cities where madness has reigned for generations. The entire “native” population on Sky Tear ranges perhaps in the few million. Despite massive research, the cause of these effects are still unknown, although theories have been advanced, ranging from the planet’s erratic magnetic fields to its extreme heat, to plant spores and other pathogens. Many have also blamed the telepathic Muazi sentient fungi native to the world, although this theory is disputed by many. 

Sky Tear is a Caliphate world by military claim alone. A small but potent Kurgan fleet is based in this system, both to protect the unique resources of Sky Tear for the Caliphate and to guard the Vuldrok Star Nation’s only raiding route into the Caliphate. The resources of Sky Tear are as bizarre as the planet itself, including certain psychotropic compounds distilled from Muazi “flesh” through an alchemical process that surprisingly does not harm the alien, and which produce ecstatic visions and temporary psychic powers when consumed; Cymbysis crystals which change color when agitated and can be dissolved into fractal rainbow patterns in alcohol or boiling water, to produce mildly euphoric novelty drinks; and the flexible Tchua wood. 

Ships of the Caliphate

The ship designs manufactured within the Caliphate were created during the original colonial effort sponsored by Egon and his corporation, indeed these designs were created to differentiate from the vessels in use within the Second Republic. The initial design emphasis was to produce ships with a distinctive and coherent look that would not be mistaken as Second Republican craft. Most of the underlying technology is similar to, and in many cases superior to what the Phoenix Empire has managed to hold onto.

Typical Kurgan designs form a collection of basic geometric forms, often with triangular or wedge shaped cross sections and angled plates rather than rounded hull sections. Drives are mounted towards the rear of the space frame and poorly protected. The command deck is usually to the fore or mid of sections of the upper hull.

Kurgan designs make use of a number of high tech weapons and their approach to space warfare is most reminiscent of the al-Malik, preferring to engage at range. A key difference in tactical doctrine is the use of carrier ships and fighter squadrons; this allows the Kurgans to hold valuable capital ships back behind a fighter screen. It is a feature of many Kurgan capital ships that they often feature launch bays for small fighter craft, an extravagance to the eyes of the Phoenix Empire given the costs of training fighter pilots.

The centre piece of the Kurgan fleet is its carrier ships, great vessels designed to house and launch large numbers of small fighters and usually protected by a picket of lesser cruisers and destroyers. Generally speaking most Kurgan vessels are much more standardized that those of the Phoenix Empire or the Vuldrok Star Nation.

Mujahidin Class Raider
The Mujahidin is a relatively recent design having been in service only in the last two hundred years or so. Its appearance is distinctly Kurgan with an angular cross section and swept forward aft section, with a hammerhead bridge mounted on a short neck.
This vessel is typically employed in a forward raiding capacity operating in small groups to disable and board merchant shipping. As a result they often carry a marine complement of Kurgan Corsairs, trained for close order shipboard combat.
Hull Size: 4
Structure: 50 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (1 month), Jump drive (3 jumps)
Crew: 2 command crew, 5 gunners, 4 personnel
Sensors:  7AU
Weapons: Grapple Gun (fixed fore), 1x Light Blaster (turret- dorsal fore), 4x Light Heat Casters (2x starboard gundeck, 2x port gundeck)
Shields: 2/2
Cargo: 40 tons
Passengers: 7 (1 stateroom, 1 bunkroom)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby +0 none 0/0
Port +2 Standard 0/0
Cruise +4 Fast 1/1
Attack +6 Fast 2/2
Maximum +8
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Decent) [5], Fire Control (Short) [5], Advanced Sensors [4]
Benefice Cost: 115pts

Fajr, modified Mujahidin Class Raider
The Fajr has been modified to suit the needs of an explorer craft. Its weapon systems have been stripped back to extend the vessels range and operational capability. Captained by Rasan al-Mer of the Ikhwan-i-Ghamizi, his mission is to survey the Jumpgates of the Caliphate seeking new routes between the stars.
While examining the Khayyam Jumpgate the crew of the Fajr has determined that there are 6 possible Jumproads from that system, of which only two are currently known. The crew is working to calculate jump coordinates to discover if any of these routes are presently active.
Hull Size: 4
Structure: 50 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (2 months), Jump drive (4 jumps)
Crew: 2 command crew, 1 gunners, 4 personnel
Sensors:  7AU
Weapons: Grapple Gun (fixed fore), 1x Light Blaster (turret- dorsal fore), 4x Light Heat Casters (2x starboard gundeck, 2x port gundeck)
Shields: 2/2
Cargo: 40 tons
Passengers: 7 (1 stateroom, 1 bunkroom)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby +0 none 0/0
Port +2 Standard 0/0
Cruise +4 Fast 1/1
Attack +6 Fast 2/2
Maximum +8
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Decent) [5], Fire Control (Short) [5], Advanced Sensors [4], Extended Jump Capacity [5]
Benefice Cost: 56pts

Salat (the “Sally”), modified Mujahidin Class Raider
The Salat was a raiding ship in the Vera Cruz system, attacking Hazat supply convoys bound for Hira. The Corsairs picked on a convey that was protected by several heavily armed Q ships. The Salat was wrecked and hulk recovered to be towed to the prize court for bounty payment. The Imperial Eye then purchased the hulk from the Hazat, and the vessel was out fitted as a spy ship intended to deliver covert operatives deep behind enemy lines.
Despite the rebuild, the ship is in poor condition, but Agent Raymond Castor and his crew manage to keep the ship running on stolen supplies and black market parts. The ship has managed to avoid most entanglements with both the Hazat and the Kurgans and often delivers field agents to Hira and beyond. The crew affectionately refers to the vessel as “Sally”, rather than the Salat.
Hull Size: 4
Structure: 50 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (1 month), Jump drive (2 jumps)
Crew: 2 command crew, 5 gunners, 4 personnel
Sensors:  6AU
Weapons: Grapple Gun (fixed fore), 1x Light Blaster (turret- dorsal fore), 4x Light Blasters (2x starboard gundeck, 2x port gundeck)
Shields: 2/2
Cargo: 40 tons
Passengers: 7 (1 stateroom, 1 bunkroom)
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby +2 none 0/0
Port +4 Standard 0/0
Cruise +6 Fast 1/1
Attack +8 Fast 2/2
Maximum +10
Benefits & Afflictions: Lander [5], Maintenance (Poor) [1], Fire Control (Short) [5], Advanced Sensors [2], Leaking Drive [+3], Poor Jump Capability [+3]
Benefice Cost: 59pts

Rami Class Fighter
The Rami Class Fighter is an ancient space fighter design that dates back to the first days of the Caliphate. A stubby angular design capable of atmospheric reentry and combat but lacking the thrust to exit an atmosphere under its own power, meaning that they need to be recovered to orbit by a light atmosphere capable carrier. 
Hull Size: 0
Structure: 10 Armor: 0
Drives: Fast (2 days)
Crew: 1 command crew
Sensors:  5AU
Weapons: Light Blaster (fixed fore)
Shields: 0/0
Cargo: 0 tons
Passengers: 0
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby -4 none 0/0
Port -2 Standard 0/0
Cruise +0 Fast 0/0
Attack +2 Fast 0/0
Maximum +4
Benefits & Afflictions: Atmospheric [2], Maintenance (Decent) [5]
Benefice Cost: 17pts

Najid Class Bomber
The Najid Class Bomber features the typical angular geometry of other Kurgan designed ships, the drives are mounded to the sides of the space frame giving a tail gunner a good field of fire from a position at the rear most part of the ship.
Hull Size: 0
Structure: 10 Armor: 0
Drives: Standard (2 days)
Crew: 1 pilot, 1 gunner
Sensors:  1AU
Weapons: 2x Light Blaster (1x fixed fore, 1x turret- aft), Rocket Salvo (fixed fore)
Shields: 0/0
Cargo: 0 tons
Passengers: 0
Power Signature Acceleration Shields
Standby -4 none 0/0
Port -2 Slow 0/0
Cruise +0 Standard 0/0
Attack +2 Standard 0/0
Maximum +4
Benefits & Afflictions: Atmospheric [2], Maintenance (Decent) [5]
Benefice Cost: 18pts

Kurgan Sinners & Saints

Zulaykha Turakina
Once the most sought-after courtesan in the Caliphal court, Zulaykha Turakina was exiled from Kurgan space when her beauty caused the Caliph’s nephew to make some ill-considered choices. Banished from the Caliphate she made her way to the court of the Phoenix Emperor acting as a diplomat and spokes person on behalf of the Caliphate.

Zulaykha has used her charms to live a lavish life style funded by the gifts of the many suitors who sought to tame the wild Kurgan beauty. She spent time with each extracting gossips, rumors and secrets through her flawless seduction. Only the truly wealthy and the well connected can afford to pay for her company and many pay a higher price than they could ever imagine. Whatever truths she learns are carefully documented, coded and passed back the Caliphate through a network of traders and agents.

Quote: “Never in all of my years have I been experiencing a lovemaking so passionate, and yet so consummately skilled, as yours, O my lord!” (or, “O my lady!” as circumstance demands …)
Description: Very tall for a Kurgan (6 foot), Zulaykha is taller than most Known Worlds females and many males, a fact she emphasizes with high heels and hairstyles seemingly conceived by late Republican architects. Though slender, her body is taut with well-trained muscle softened by ripe curves only partly attributable to cosmetic surgery.

Her hair is wavy black with a reddish tint and, when unbound, falls to her ankles. Olive-complexioned, her face combines the finest features of all the various human racial types, especially favoring the Asian, though her almond-shaped eyes are naturally green. The poet Rustam is quoted as saying that her broad pearly smile could melt the polar caps of Malignatius, but is occasionally marred by a bitter scowl—usually reserved for enemies and servants—that once caused a Vorox to soil himself.

Dex: 6 Vig: 5 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 5 Wil: 7 Fatigue 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 5 Pre: 10 Reputation 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
Faith: 4
Skills: Arts (Acting) 6, Arts (Dance) 8, Arts (Fashion) 7, Athletics 2, Beastcraft 5, Culture (Irem) 7, Culture (Rukh) 2, Culture (Hira) 2, Culture (Khayyam) 2, Culture (Al Fashir) 2, Culture (Byzantium Secundus) 5, Culture (Phoenix Empire) 6, Culture (Kurga Caliphate) 8, Deception 7, Dodge 6, Etiquette 8, Fight 2, Influence 9, Inquiry 4, Observe 3, Sneak 2, Streetwise 1, Throw 2, Torture 5
Benefits & Afflictions: Retinue (2x clothiers, 1x hairdresser, 1x cosmetologist, 1x bodyguard), Barbarian (Kurgan), Wealth (Wealthy), Angelic, Casanova, Prideful, Vain
Gear: Elaborate wardrobe, aphrodisiacs, twin stilettos (with bejeweled ornamental handles—worn as hairpins)

Ahmed al-Hassan
A dealer in artifacts and curiosities brought from the barbarian stars to the bazaars of the Phoenix Empire. Ahmed operates and import and export business that specializes in bring artifacts across the boarder between Kurgan space and the Phoenix Empire. Most of his customers have no idea that many of the supposed arts and treasures he deals in are actually carefully crafted fakes or replicas, but even forgery is not his primary business.

Ahmed trades in information. Using his contacts he is able to pass coded messages back and forward across the border. His network of contacts allows him to provide valuable information to the Caliphate on the political disposition of the Phoenix Empire and the disposition of some Hazat forces. The Imperial Eye suspects him of being a spy and keep a close watch on him, but so far they have not seen fit to remove him. Ahmed is of course very aware that he is being watched, and even seems to relish the game of cat and mouse – though he mistakenly believes himself to be the cat.

Quote: “Not so loud friend, come closer… I might be able to help you make the crossing, I know some people and I can make the right kind of introductions if you would like? And if the price is right.”
Description: A squat rotund man with hawkish nose and olive skin. He prefers to ware loose fitting Kurgan garb with a turban, usually fashioned from rich materials and featuring fine embroidery.

Dex: 4 Vig: 6 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 7 Wil: 6 Fatigue 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 4 Pre: 4 Reputation 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Faith: 6
Skills: Athletics 2, Culture (Vera Cruz) 5, Culture (Hira) 2, Culture (Khayyam) 4, Culture (Byzantium Secundus) 2, Culture (Hazat) 3, Culture (Phoenix Empire) 4, Culture (Kurga Caliphate) 6, Culture (Ikhwan-i-Sihr) 4, Deception 7, Dodge 4, Fight 6, Influence 6, Inquiry 7, Observe 6, Sneak 4, Streetwise 8, Throw 2
Benefits & Afflictions: Retinue (1x bodyguard), Barbarian (Kurgan), Wealth (Rich), Gracious, Haughty 
Gear: Outlandish clothing

Kurgan Corsairs (generics)
Kurgan raiders are active in both the Hira and Vera Cruz systems, targeting Hazat supply convoys and forcing the Hazat to commit a significant portion of their warships to system defense. Raider fleets are often small and operate deep behind enemy lines, having to obtain supplies from the convoys they ambush. Kurgan raider fleets often include a command and control ship with superior sensors to detect enemy ships and prepare an ambush. Unlike other pirates, Kurgan Corsairs are rarely concerned with the capture of vessels and often scuttle those they capture or even booby trap them and leave them behind to catch the unwary.

Kurgan Corsair Captain
Dex: 6 Vig: 5 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 5 Wil: 6 Fatigue 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 4 Pre: 6 Reputation 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Faith: 5
Skills: Athletics 2, Command 5, Culture (Vera Cruz) 1, Culture (Hira) 2, Culture (Phoenix Empire) 1, Culture (Kurga Caliphate) 5, Deception 3, Dodge 4, Fight 4, Gunnery 4, Helm 4, Influence 4, Observe 5, Pilot 4, Sneak 2, Shoot 4, Throw 2, Tech Redemption 4, Think Machine 5
Benefits & Afflictions: Barbarian (Kurgan), Wealth (Poor)
Gear: Kurgan uniform, Kurgan side-sword, light autofeed pistol

Kurgan Corsair
Dex: 5 Vig: 5 Vitality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Wit: 4 Wil: 5 Fatigue 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Int: 3 Pre: 3 Reputation 0 0 0 0 0 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Faith: 2
Skills: Athletics 2, Culture (Hira) 2, Culture (Kurga Caliphate) 4, Dodge 3, Fight 4, Gunnery 4, Helm 4, Influence 3, Observe 3, Pilot 2, Sneak 2, Shoot 4, Throw 2, Tech Redemption 3, Think Machine 3
Benefits & Afflictions: Barbarian (Kurgan), Wealth (Poor)
Gear: Kurgan uniform, Kurgan side-sword, light autofeed pistol