This profile was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 1999 and reprinted in the November/December 2016 issue.
Gvoudzon has major roles in The Traveller Adventure, to which this article implicitly refers.
The glamour, the prestige, appeals to Vargr mentality. Impulsive and easily directed by charismatic leaders, the Vargr psyche naturally gravitates towards these ultimate opportunists. Corsairs are admired by the Vargr public at large for their pursuit of unlimited booty and a stretch of the easy life.
These commerce raiders answer to no law but their own. Members of corsair bands go wherever they want, do whatever they wish. In the broken empires of the Vargr Extents, a few corsair organizations eclipse even the power of local rulers with entire kingdoms behind them.
It has been said that as long as there are individuals capable of attracting a handful of followers to mount raids, there will be Vargr corsairs.
The largest, most politically powerful corsair band operating in the Imperial fringe today is the bloodthirsty Kforuzeng organization, formed over 50 years ago through amalgamation of a number of smaller bands. They conducted large scale raids into Aramis subsector during the Fourth Frontier War.
The Kforuzeng now boasts a fleet of 35 starships, ranging from 100 to 1,000 displacement tons, able to field several thousand pirates and mercenaries.
One former member of this organization, Gvoudzon, has stumbled his way across the Imperial border, planet to planet, finally resting on the capital world of the Aramis subsector.
The Commonality of Kedzudh is a loose interstellar government in the Vargr Extents. As the Kforuzeng organization rose in power 61 years ago, several world governments united in an attempt to suppress the outbreak of piracy. One of the planets forming the Commonality is the world of Ksarueso. It is on this planet that Gvoudzon was born.
During Gvoudzon’s childhood, Kforuzeng influence grew to cover several subsectors along the Imperial border. By the time Gvoudzon came of age, the corsair band spaced a fleet of two dozen small starships and operated as a short-term military force, hiring their services out to the highest bidder. When jobs were scarce, the Kforuzeng would raid unguarded worlds and shipping routes for loot.
Ksaueso was one of the worlds raided by the Kforuzeng, and on one of these raids, Gvoudzon was taken as a conscript.
Desperate at his enslavement at first, Gvoudzon eventually found that the life of a corsair agreed with him. Over the next twelve years, he rose steadily in position, attaining the powerful and well-respected rank of Force Leader.
About nine years ago, internal power struggles threatened to tear the Kforuzeng organization apart. The history of the Kforuzeng had always been bloody, but the band’s newest leader directed its resources toward particularly gruesome operations. A minority faction of the Kforuzeng feared the band’s actions would attract increased opposition from Kforuz enemies, heralding their demise.
Compromise was not reached. Rather than destroy the Kforuzeng from within, the minority faction broke off from the mother group, forming another corsair organization, the Aegzaeng.
Gvoudzon found himself member to this new Kforuz splinter group.
The Aegzaeng is weaker than the Kforuzeng, its fleet older and smaller, totaling ten ships in the 300 displacement ton range. The Aegzaeng is more equipped for ground operations rather than missions requiring space superiority.
Ties to the Kforuzeng have been maintained, though. Both bands weakened by the separation, the Kforuzeng and Aegzaeng have found it mutually profitable to perform operations in tandem. The two groups often combine efforts on joint missions.
The nature of interstellar communication—that the speed of communication is dependent on the rate of transportation—poses a problem for any interstellar entity. Simple coordination of activity between the Kforuzeng and the Aegzaeng is a considerable obstacle.
The Vargr answer to this problem has become a major industry—and a career choice of many Vargr within the Extents. Emissaries are individual bargainers and arbitrators, employed by Vargr governments and other Vargr power structures, charged with the task of maintaining swift, coordinated interstellar communication. The fragmented nature of Vargr society, compounded by the interstellar communication issue, requires these intermediaries—problem solvers who assist in resolving disputes that inevitably arise between interstellar entities.
Just after the Aegzaeng split from the Kforuzeng, Gvoudzon was sent to Tsu Thoezhou (which, translated literally, means Honor Gate), the premier school for emissaries in the Vargr Extents. He became a member of the Zhosokh Urs (translated, means the well-respected ear), and, upon graduation, had his right ear clipped as is the tradition of this brotherhood of professional emissaries (thus, the name of the brotherhood).
Gvoudzon returned in 1099, six years ago, beginning a career as courier between the Aeqzaeng and the Kforuzeng.
In recent years, Kforuzeng has recovered from the damaging blow of the Aegzaeng separation. Gvoudzon has watched as his former corsair band rebuilt itself, growing in both size and power. In his position as emissary to the Kforuz, Gvoudzon has seen Kforuzeng expansion policies turn to bloody takeovers, and the bloodiest has been the most recent—the Kforuzeng absorption of the Uekuez.
From his position on the sidelines, Gvoudzon read the writing on the wall. Sooner or later (probably sooner), the Kforuzeng would make a move to re-absorb the Aegzaeng. When that happened, Gvoudzon did not want to be around.
Because of the power of the Kforuzeng in the Firgr subsector, Gvoudzon knew that, if he left the Aegzaeng, he would not be safe in Vargr space. So, when he did leave, just under a year ago, he drifted rimward, across the Imperial border, to the Aramis subsector…finally ending up on Aramis itself.
Points to Remember…
- Gvoudzon was a member of the Kforuzeng corsair band for twelve years—from the time he came of age to about age 30.
The Kforuzeng raided his homeworld in the Vargr Extents and shanghaied him—“recruiting” him into their ranks.
The life of a corsair agreed with him, and Gvoudzon excelled, achieving the respected Kforuz rank of Force Leader.
- Kforuzeng is the most powerful corsair band operating in this region of space. Kforuz operations span throughout the Firgr subsector and range into both the Commonality of Kedzudh and the Thoengling Empire.
Gvoudzon broke from the Kforuzeng almost a decade ago and helped to form the Kforuz splinter group, the Aegzaeng.
- Ksarueso is Gvoudzon’s homeworld. It is a member planet of the Commonality of Kedzudh—one of the small broken kingdoms in the Vargr Extents.
The Commonality is a “new” Vargr kingdom (they’re always changing), just over 50 standard years old, created when several worlds banded together to fend off the growing Kforuzeng threat. The Vargr state maintains close ties with one of the more powerful kingdoms in the Extents, the Thoengling Empire.
Astrographically, the Commonality of Kedzudh lies between the Imperium and the Thoengling Empire in the Vargr Extents.
- The Thoengling Empire is one of the larger kingdoms in the Vargr Extents. It is more powerful and more stable than most of the Vargr states in this region of space, existing for over 300 years.
The Marquis of Aramis has recently made trade agreements with the Emperor of the Thoengling Empire, and these trade agreements have led to the establishment of Vargr Trade Stations on several worlds in the Aramis subsector. These same trade agreements have blocked the Navy’s effort to secure a price ceiling on lanthanum ore imported from the Extents
- Gvegh-Aekhu is the Vargr term for the cultural region in this area of space. Vargr in the Spinward Marches and the immediate coreward region of the Vargr Extents tend to be a mix of the Gvegh race and the Aekhu race.
The word “Gvegh” translates as “tawny” or “light-brown”, and most Vargr of this racial breed tend to have coats colored that way. Aekhu translates as “black”, and most racially Aekhu Vargr tend to have darker coats.
Most Vargr names for specific Vargr races refer to fur color.
Gvoudzon is a Gvegh Vargr. His hair is tawny, and his native language is Gvegh.
- Aegzaeng is the splinter group that Gvoudzon helped form eight years ago.
Gvoudzon acted as an emissary between the Aegzaeng and the Kforuzeng, and when he broke for Imperial territory late last year, he took with him a brooch used for clandestine communication between the two organizations—a brooch that may still contain a secreted message.
Gvoudzon believes that the Aegzaeng will soon be re-absorbed by the Kforuzeng.
- Daeus Jacks spent a large portion of his naval career engaging Vargr corsair bands, including both the Kforuzeng and the Aegzaeng.
Two years ago, in 1103, Daeus lead an Imperial naval task force, out of the base on Aramis, that routed out and engaged vessels from a major Kforuz base. This engagement took place outside the Imperial border. Several of the Vargr vessels were destroyed, resulting in a major blow to the Kforuzeng organization.
Daeus was given the medal for Meritorious Conduct Under Fire, making him one of the most decorated naval officers stationed on Aramis.
- Uekuez is the Vargr corsair band that was recently absorbed (last year) by the Kforuzeng.
Gvoudzon viewed the ruthless, bloody take over from his position as an Aegzaeng emissary to the Kforuzeng, and it was this encounter that spurred Gvoudzon to leave Aegzaeng service and travel rimward to the Imperium.
Because of discussions with Daeus, Gvoudzon has since realized that it was Jacks’ damaging raid on the Kforuz base that prompted Kforuz leadership to take over the Uekuez. The Kforuzeng needed to replace the ships lost in the encounter with Jacks’ task force, and the Uekuez had vessels for the taking.