This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website in 2008 and lightly edited into the current form for reprinting in the June/July 2014 issue. The appendix covering The Merry Fellows was added to this version of the article in December 2016.
Author’s note: This system main world originated in the 30-year-old “Glavion Cluster” campaign notes of Steve Marsh. This is a generic version for insertion into any Traveller campaign.
Trade Class 3; Small Navy facility (orbital)
A small world in a nondescript close-binary system, Breeforth’s Legacy has a thin atmosphere, no moon, extreme seasons, and an 18-hour day. The world is a corporate colony of an offworld Megacorporation, ruling over and exploiting the descendants of the long-ago original colony.
The Megacorp rules Breeforth’s Legacy under a Corporate Charter and runs the starport, leasing port space to a small Navy outpost (which accounts for the Class B port rating; civilians are normally limited to a Class C downport). This Company rules over the five lower-tech feudal clans that make up the majority of the population. Though the Five Clans produce the agricultural and mineral exports, all imports and exports channel through the Company monopoly, which takes the lion’s share of the wealth produced. This unstable situation has resulted in recent Clan rebellions, normally put down by Company mercenaries; though the present situation is relatively quiet, there is always the chance of another flareup. (As well as opportunities for smuggling, dealing directly with the Five Clans.)
Breeforth’s Legacy has a Eaglestone Trade Index of 3 (Ag/NonIndustrial); assuming a location two parsecs/one Jump from the Company’s mother system (originally Arnex in the Glavion Cluster), port traffic would be primarily “cash crop” agricultural goods for the Company, with little passenger traffic. Total volume would average 50 passengers and 1000 dtons/week, with seasonal peaks of up to 10,000/week. System defenses would be around 1000 tons, a mixture of Navy and Company privateers.
Breeforth’s Legacy is 3/4 the diameter of Earth, but with a similar hydrosphere. Its land area (1/3 that of Earth) is broken up into several small landmasses concentrated in one hemisphere, with flatlands (open plains, grasslands, and occasional forests) predominating. Though the world must have had some native life to allow a breathable atmosphere for colonization, all land life (including “cash crop” livestock) seems to have been imported before the Long Night; nothing remains of the original ecosystem except plankton, microbes, and primitive sea life.
Surface Conditions/Sky Picture
Surface gravity is around 3/4G; the atmosphere is breathable but thin, with sea-level pressure about equivalent to Earth at 2500m altitude. Visitors from standard or dense-atmosphere worlds are at risk of altitude sickness. The day is only 18 hours, with a year of 370 local days (about nine T-months); sunrise and sunset can easily sneak up on visitors.
G-class suns and thin atmosphere also make for a severe sunburn hazard; there is a reason why native Breeforthers (the Five Clans) are dark-skinned, and traditional native dress emphasizes sun protection. Visitors are advised to keep to low altitudes, avoid any highlands or mountains, and take sunburn precautions.
Flatlands, grasslands, and open plains are the most common terrain type; mountains are normally low and gently-sloped, with one or two exceptions. The short day leaves little temperature variation, though the pronounced axial tilt leads to extreme seasons and storms at hemispheric summer and winter; at these times, the shadow hemisphere has an extensive polar cap, which melts completely and reforms at the other pole during hemispheric summer. The starport and all settled areas are close to the equator, where the day/night cycle is relatively normal (though stormy twice each year).
The sun is a close-coupled G8v binary, two lemon-yellow suns orbiting each other every 33 local days, with two eclipses each cycle. At .2 AU (Orbit 0) separation, maximum separation in the sky is about the width of a hand held at arm’s length.
Pop 5000 (Megacorp employees/vassals and dependents), Gov 1 (corporate), Law 4, TL 10
Class C Ground Port with the only true “city” and Startown on-world, with Class B orbital facilities aboard a small space station in geosynch orbit overhead. Total population 5000 megacorp employees/vassals and dependents. The Company maintains a small oil/petrochemical plant just outside the port city, exporting petrochemicals in addition to what’s produced by the Five Clans.
Climate at the port is temperate, with extended rainy seasons twice a year during hemispheric summer and winter. Most unnecessary activity - Compary and Five Clans - shuts down during the rainy seasons, riding out the weeks-long storms and accompanying floods.
The Company enforces its will through a battalion-strength mercenary unit: “The Merry Fellows” under Colonel William Ferney. This TL10 mercenary force numbers around 600, airmobile in TL9 Camaret tilt-rotor Planeur “heliplanes” modified for the thin atmosphere. (Despite the thin-atmo mods, they still have a lessened service ceiling, unable to climb beyond the usual low mountains.) The Merry Fellows themselves have a reputation barely above pirates, and are said to have provided “muscle” for the mother system's Mafia.
The Navy leases half of the small Class B Highport station for fueling and maintenance of smaller military and courier vessels. The station, in geosynch orbit directly above the downport, is shaped like a dumbbell with a spinning ring habitat at the center; one end of the dumbbell core houses the civilian highport, the other the military. Though the Navy facility in the station has direct line-of-sight to almost all the world’s landmasses, the Navy normally does not interfere in Corporate/Clan affairs (though the base CO does have some discretion).
System defenses are jointly run by the Megacorp and the Navy: 10 surface-mounted laser-turrets, a fighter squadron, 800 tons of SDBs, and two platoons of Marines.
The Five Clans
The Five Clans are the native population of Breeforth’s Legacy, descendants of the original colonists who regressed into feudalism during the Long Night. Each clan is divided into three classes: “Family”, the actual aristocratic families who can trace descent from the original colonists, “armed retainers” who make up the clan’s security and armed forces, and the rest of the population who are normally tenant farmers/workers.
Even in those clans governed by Direct Democracy (Gov 2), the word of “Family” has greater weight. As low-tech livestock ranching is the world’s main “cash crop”, “Family” aristocrats are more akin to “Old West Cattle Barons” than traditional nobles - established clans of “Cartwrights” and “Barkleys” now under the thumb of “Dudes from the East”.
Each clan has two Law Levels; the first is the “official” Law Level, enforced by the Company and the Merry Fellows; the second (in parentheses) is the actual internal Law Level.
Dormai Clan: Pop 2000 (100 “Family”, 500 armed retainers), Gov 3, Law 6 (5), TL 4
Dormai Clan are primarily ranchers, with sidelines into logging and textile manufacture. They run between 15 and 75,000 head of “hulks” depending on season, plus a breeding herd of 100 horses. Exports meat, wood, textiles.
Kulu Clan: Pop between 2000 and 3000 (all “Family”), Gov 4, Law 7 (3), TL 6
A ranching and mining clan, Kulu is considered the dominant clan of the Five and attracts the most attention from the Company. If things blow up on BL again, Kulu Clan will play a major role. Running 20 to 100,000 head of “hulks”, they have their own Class E port and maintain a single (unofficially-armed) pinnace. Exports wood, tin, iron, blades, meat.
Tamai Clan: Pop 1000 (10 “Family”, 200 armed retainers), Gov 2, Law 6 (3), TL 4
Tamai Clan are ranchers and miners, running 20,000 head of mutant cattle and three crystal/gemstone mines. Exports meat, crystals, gemstones.
Upshoggoth Clan: Pop 1000 (50 “Family”, 100 armed retainers), Gov 2, Law 6 (2), TL 5
Another ranching clan with an additional reputation as fine horse breeders, Upshoggoth Clan runs 20,000 head of mutant cattle and 500 horses on BL’s plains. Exports meat, grain, livestock (purebred horses; treat as TL8 for horse-breeding and hybridization).
Urgary Clan: Pop 3000 (40 “Family”, 1000 armed retainers), Gov 5, Law 6 (6), TL 7
The highest tech of the Five Clans (and the most cooperative with/loyal to the Company), Urgary are primarily sea ranchers, running an extensive aquaculture. They maintain four hovercraft and four patrol boats to support their aquaculture operations. Exports sea salt (unique chemical composition), meat (fish), and pharmaceuticals.
The Clans may also have secrets—Anagathic stashes (primarily Kulu), pre-Long Night artifacts (some of them still operational), and weird/nasty underground religions (like a whispered-about secret society, primarily Upshoggoth and Urgary but extending into the other clans). These would be kept secret even within the clan, never mind from the Company. Even Urgary, the Company’s “pet clan”, might have some secrets stashed away to use against them in the next flareup.
The Clans vs the Corporation (with echoes of the Wild West), need we say more? Lots of opportunities for smuggling and extralegal/covert ops dealing with the Five Clans under the corporate radar. Though the Navy’s highport facility can detect and track any ship landing for such free trade, they normally keep a hands-off attitude towards planetary affairs.
The big event during the dry seasons (once the storm-floods have run off and the land has dried a bit) are the cattle/hulk drives to the Starport Enclave, with Five Clans “cowboys” taking the livestock to market. This is when the port enclave becomes “the world’s biggest cowtown” teeming with natives, and the Clans come together both overtly and covertly.
And don’t forget Clan Secrets for wild cards and weirdness. (“They’re paying in anagathics?” “What was that chant we heard? Ia, Ia, Something Something?”)
Appendix: The Merry Fellows
The Merry Fellows are a TL9bis batallion-strength airmobile mercenary company in the Glavion Cluster. Commanded by Colonel Wm Ferney, they have served in the past as “enforcers” for the Cluster's organized crime and currently serve on a “security” ticket for the associated Cluster Megacorp on the company-run world of Breeforth’s Legacy.
Colonel Ferney himself is middle-aged, sandy-haired, and is reputed to be a high-functioning alcoholic with a mean streak; this does not seem to have affected his command or fighting ability. The unit itself has a reputation barely-above pirates, and keeps the Five Clans properly subdued by their reputation as much as combat power.
The Merry Fellows consist of a Headquarters Company and five two-platoon companies of infantry, airmobile in TL9 Camaret Planeur VTOL heliplanes. An additional platoon without heliplanes provides HQ/base security. Their badge is a fimbriated black circle, like a muted version of a Japanese hinomaru.
Emplaced command post (with Colonel Ferney), HQ security platoon (“The Black Guard”), maintenance and supply platoons.
Air Assault Platoon (10, organized into five two-platoon Companies)
Each platoon is airmobile in five Planeur heliplanes, VTOL (tilt-rotor) gunship/transport aircraft.
Each dismount platoon has four squads of two fire teams plus a Heavy Weapons squad with two manpack tac missile teams; two teams ride in each Planeur. Troopers are equipped to TL10 standards, with Combat Environment Suits, ACR/Ram-GL over/under “grenadier rifles”, and one ALMG per fire team. Heavy Weapons teams and non-line personnel are issued TL10 Snubmachineguns and officers can pack whatever they damn well please. Disposable single-shot rocket launchers are carried for bunker-busting and light anti-armor use.
The Black Guard is an eleventh line platoon without Planeurs, tasked with HQ Security.
Manufactured by Camaret primarily for export, the Planeur (“heliplane”) is a TL9 tilt-rotor VTOL gunship and transport for air cavalry/airmobile forces, resembling a cross between a V-22 Osprey and Mi-24 Hind-A. Built-in armament is a chin turret mounting a 15mm AHMG, two pintles on the side doors for AMMGs, and stub wings with eight hardpoints for direct-fire MRL pods and/or tac missiles (normal loadout four of each, similar to a Hind). The fuselage, engines, and vitals are armored with non-metallic composites to resist most all TL9 small-arms fire.
Normal crew is four – pilot, copilot/gunner, and two door gunners. Eight to ten fully-equipped passengers can be carried under normal conditions, embarking and disembarking out the side doors. This load can be doubled in an emergency.
The Merry Fellows’ Planeurs are fitted for the thin-atmo conditions of Breeforth’s Legacy, with wide “paddle” rotor/propellers. Even with these thin-atmo mods, their service ceiling on-world is limited to the lowlands, foothills, and low mountains. Fortunately for them, the world does not have much in the way of high mountains.
The Merry Fellows are based on the paramilitary criminal syndicate of the same name in the Jules Verne novel L’Etonnante Aventure de la Mission Barzac (Incredible Adventure of the Barzac Expedition, c.1905), published in English as two volumes: Into the Niger Bend and City in the Sahara.
Being a Victorian Frenchman, M. Verne had the Victorian author’s mania for detailed lists and cataloging, and chapters devoted to background infodump asides; the first chapter of City in the Sahara is a detailed catalog of the Merry Fellows and their “steampunk” criminal empire of Blackland, the “city in the Sahara”.
These Merry Fellows were translated directly from Steampunk to Traveller; their Table of Organization, VTOL airlift capability, and use of “aerial torpedoes” (tac missiles) is exactly as M. Verne wrote them in 1905, with “a colonel, five captains, ten lieutenants, and fifty sergeants” plus a platoon-sized “Black Guard”.