This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue.
Editor’s Note: This is from a posting to the Traveller Mailing List from 1995. The author writes “With all the hubbub about ‘imminent TL-17’ Vincennes, I thought I’d pop this description in of the Vincennes in my campaign. I’ve tried to remain as true as possible to the original write-up of the system that was presented MegaTraveller Journal #3. I've created a pretty detailed set of additional background material since Vincennes is the focal system of my campaign.”
Author’s Note: This writeup draws heavily upon the information presented in the Vincennes World Guide featured in MegaTraveller Journal #3. I would like to thank and acknowledge author Charles P. Kalina for his outstanding and descriptive article. This RICE paper is intended to build upon the information provided in the article and reestablish Vincennes in The New Era.
Vincennes (Vincennes: Deneb/1122) A899AA6-G Hi In Cp 213 Re K7 V M7 V G1 V G=1.50, Day=33:32:15, Year = 199d 06:28:48 Atmo=1.50, Weather Control Temp= +24.7 (7/lat +21 to -49) (season +66.0 to -20.0, 5.32 deg lat) Daily temp range: Special Ores, Radioactives; Parts, Durables, Weapons; Recordings, Software Progressive/Enterprising, Competitive/Neutral, Harmonious/Aloof Legal: 6-6A665 Tech GG-GHHGH-FGGG-GE-G Vincennes System Details Orbit Name UWP Remarks Primary Undraczech K7 V 0 Wood Res.Sta. G000138-G As Re 1-2 (Empty Orbits) 3* Ember M7 V 0 Friend F212764-G 40 Greenwood YS00000-0 Captured Comet 1 Vincennes A899AA6-G Hi In Cp 4 Bascom Small GG Size 40 4 Turbot G652239-F Mining Colony 30 Chariot Y200000-0 Va Ba 50 Heighat Y300000-0 Va Ba 5 Shinden Small GG Size 50 55 Defense F410367-G Sys. Def. Base 6-11 (Empty Orbits) 12* Guazhurniim G1 V 0 Craddick YS00000-0 Va Ba 1 Lagahar YS00000-0 Va Ba 2 Anashaldi Y530000-0 3 Paven DA77766-G Ag Ni Mi 9 Wharton HS00246-E 4 Shozhul Large GG Size 220 2 (Ring System) YR00000-0 7 Plotkin YS00000-0 10 Stopover F320134-F Refueling Sta. * Companion stars.
Vincennes is the technological jewel of the Regency. The planet is the Regency’s single most advanced producer of commercial technology, known for its unique environmental characteristics and reclusive society. Many detractors of Vincenzi success cite the system’s inability to achieve universal TL-17 technology as indicative of the system’s imminent decline. The growing interference of bureaucracies and the aristocracy in Vincenzi entrepreneurial interests threatens to derail all that the Vincenzi have built. The spectre of crime and corruption has begun to taint the planet’s prospects as well. The upcoming age will not be easy for the Vincenzi, but if their hallowed entrepreneurial spirit prevails, Vincennes will continue to shine as a nexus of technological and societal wonder.
Origins of Vincenzi High-Tech
The origins of Vincennes’ amazingly innovative and enterprising society are the result of the unique properties of the world and its trinary star system. To understand Vincenzi technological innovation, one must understand the hostile environment Vincennes presents to its inhabitants. Vincennes orbits Ember, the close companion of system primary, Undraczech. Because of the proximity of the two stars to one another, Vincennes' orbit takes it almost directly between Ember and Undraczech. The weak stellar emanations of red dwarf Ember are insufficient to support life on their own. When Vincennes is in close proximity to Undraczech, however, intense stellar radiation produces extremely high temperatures and inclement meteorological activity on the planet. The result is that Vincenzi temperature and weather patterns vary greatly over its 199.27-day orbit around Ember.
During Vincenzi summers, when the planet is directly between the two suns, temperatures climb to an unbearable 66 degrees C. Massive convection storms sweep the planet and the intense heat releases sulfur compounds from the planet’s ocean depths, shrouding the entire globe in blustery cloud formations. Autumn is the rainy season on Vincennes, with the highly acidic taint of the planet’s atmosphere producing acid rain storms that force Vincenzi to don protective clothing and breathing masks when going outdoors. During winter, when Vincennes is at its most distant point from Undraczech, the temperatures drop as low as -20 degrees C. Icebergs dot the ocean surface around the globe, with polar ice caps forming in the southern and northern extremes. Spring is the most pleasant season, during which the temperature is at a comfortable level and the atmospheric taint is reduced to the point that the normally reclusive Vincenzi can actually come outdoors and breathe in the open air.
The extremely hostile environment of Vincennes begs the question, “Why colonize such a planet?” The answer is that Vincennes is rich in natural resources. Underneath Vincennes’ deep, nearly worldwide ocean (Vincennes features a 94 percent hydrosphere), rich deposits of ores and radioactives await industrial development. While several sprawling undersea metroplexes have been constructed over the centuries to exploit Vincennes’ resources, many geological surveyors believe Vincenzi industrial interests still have only scratched the surface. The difficult prospect of doing business on Vincennes has spawned an active research and development community. Their innovation in communications, robotics, and environmental technology have made it possible to operate in an otherwise unsuitable climate.
Vincenzi life is generally compared to that of Cambrian-era Terra. Notable among Vincenzi lifeforms are beam, a bamboo-like plant that grows in Vincenzi oceans, and rockmat, a porous rock-hard substance that grows around the rocky formations of The Shoal, much like Terran coral.
Notable among the Vincenzi metroplexes are Kehmed (the capital city), Burke (the newest of the metroplexes), Markel (dominated by SuSAG industrial concerns) and Willis. All of the metroplexes include scores of arcologies, domed cities and satellite gravitic cities that hover above the Vincenzi ocean, serving the ore transportation and trade interface needs of their undersea cohorts. Kehmed, far and away the most populous metroplex, includes an astounding 77 gravitic cities within its dominion. The gravitic cities come in numerous shapes and sizes and generally serve specialized purposes. Melchen, for instance, primarily serves the tourist and entertainment sectors, while Malin Tekhar and Dumorov are more industrial in nature. Remote Foxhunter, an irregular-formation gravitic city, inhabits Vincennes’ horse latitudes, avoiding the worst of the planet’s weather by deftly increasing its altitude during the summers. Many of the gravitic cities are lowered to the surface of Vincennes during the more stable winter and spring seasons. During these periods, ores and manufactured products are easily shipped from the undersea metroplexes to the floating gravitic cities via submersible.
The solitary archipelago of the world, known as The Shoal, is sparsely inhabited. Due to seismic instability and heavy erosion during the summers, its rocky surface supports very few permanent habitations. Only Vincennes Down Starport and its surrounding community maintain a large permanent presence. During the stormy summers, landings at Vincennes Down would be virtually impossible if it weren't for advanced Vincenzi manipulator technology that enables the starport to gravitically guide starships to safety.
The proliferation of high-tech among Vincenzi citizens has resulted in a unique society. Vincennes’ advanced communications and computer technology enable most Vincenzi to perform business completely from their homes. An entire world of telecommuters maintains contact with one another using holographic meson communications equipment. Entire board meetings of some Vincenzi corporations are held in virtual boardrooms that exist only in the conceptual sense. Holographic representations of one’s business associates may be projected so that they appear to be in the same room, even though they may be on the other side of The Shoal, the planet, or even the outer system.
Most Vincenzi have managed to acquire at least a moderate amount of personal wealth. While Vincenzi society is hardly utopian, it can accurately be said that advanced technology on Vincennes has paved the path for most of the planet’s inhabitants to build at least a small personal fortune.
During the pre-Rebellion era, advanced robotics were employed to perform virtually all dangerous or undesirable tasks on Vincennes, including mining operations, zero-G ops in orbit around Vincennes, and deep-sea construction. The antirobotic hysteria that swept the Regency after the appearance of Virus greatly injured the Vincenzi robotics industry. Native Vincenzi, however, were not willing to give up the advantages their robots gave them. Instead, they have willingly submitted to RQS regulations that limit off-world exportation of Vincenzi robotics technology. Since then, technology-sharing agreements with advanced robotics research groups on Rhylanor and HRD have spawned astonishing advances in Virus-proofing techniques. These developments, along with decreasing antirobotic sentiment and aggressive lobbying by ‘G’ (Vincennes’ largest and most powerful distributor and exporter of high-tech equipment) and several Vincenzi industrial consortiums has resulted in a gradual relaxation of the RQS regulations. Within the last decade, Vincenzi robotics construction and exportation has reached about 25 percent of its pre-Rebellion level.
Because of the Vincenzi tendency to utilize high-tech communications for most of their interpersonal contact, offworlders will discover that most of the people they meet on Vincenzi streets are other offworlders. Just because Vincenzi tend to be reclusive doesn’t mean they’re entirely unfriendly, however. While actual person-to-person contact is not common, when Vincenzi do get together, they tend to hold gala events, parties and festivals that rival any in the Regency. In the spring, Vincennes’ gravitic cities retract their roofs and millions of people gather in plazas, parks and the streets to engage in spring festivals and celebrations.
Crime has traditionally been a remarkably small problem on Vincennes. Due to the Vincenzi tendency to operate from their homes, reduced interaction between people and relative economic well-being have prevented the criminal turmoil that plagues most high-population Regency systems from developing on Vincennes. The moderate influx of refugee population and arrival of several discreet white-collar criminal organizations, however, has tainted Vincennes’ crime-free reputation since the Collapse. Many offworlders attribute these problems to the resurgence of the notorious Humbolt family on Vincennes, whose criminal tendencies are legendary. Vincenzi natives, however, generally point their fingers at opportunistic offworlders, who are all too eager to reap the financial rewards of doing business on Vincennes and frequently resort to criminal pursuits to do so.
Obtaining Vincenzi Technology
Traders and travellers coming to Vincennes for high-tech goods won’t be disappointed in the selection but they may be a bit miffed by the amount of bureaucratic red tape they have to cut through to buy any of it. The planet’s high-tech market sells TL-16 goods primarily at the planet’s orbital starports and Vincennes Down Starport.
Most would-be tech purchasers are usually surprised by the level of interference from the Vincennes Trade and Commerce Commission (VTCC). The VTCC is one of the more intrusive trade management bureaucracies in the Regency and maintains strict guidelines by which sale of high-tech goods may be made. Regency citizenship is required for any purchase and all computer, communications and robotic equipment sold on Vincennes undergoes thorough examination by local RQS officials before export. The VTCC’s primary concern is quality control and the level of technology proliferation. Most VTCC bureaucrats support a controlled-growth economic philosophy.
The VTCC’s primary opponent is ‘G’, the main distributor and exporter of Vincennes’ advanced technological goods. G has recently begun to build a spin-off company, ‘H’, whose primary concern is creating venture capital for Vincenzi companies working on TL-17 prototypes and marketing these products to offworld interests. Because of the bureaucratic warfare between the VTCC and the more laissez-faire G, and the rigidity of trade regulations, small lot purchases of Vincenzi technology are often difficult to arrange. Alternatively, tech-hungry adventurers may want to make friends with the more established free traders of the Vincennes Cluster. Many of them make large-lot purchases of Vincenzi tech and, given the right price, are often willing to sell small or individual quantities of high-tech goods. Small-lot or individual purchases of Vincenzi equipment are therefore made, for the most part, not on Vincennes but in nearby systems.
Vincenzi starships are renowned for their quality and ample use of TL-16 technology. Because of the planet’s proximity to Depot Alpha and Depot Beta, Vincennes manufactures very few warships. A few escort and frigate variants are manufactured on Vincennes for the purpose of defending tech shipments or agricultural products from Paven, but for the most part, Vincennes concentrates on producing traders, liners and exploratory vessels. Perhaps the most well-known of Vincenzi starship designs is the 300-ton Gushiken-class Free Trader. The Gushiken uses TL-16 technology to minimize the volume taken by drive and electronic component and maximizes cargo space. The ship was originally intended for microjump transportation of grain from Paven to Vincennes but has since been adopted for more universal use.
Up until the formation of the Regency in 1132, Vincennes had been ruled by the Marquis of Vincennes for several centuries, a position appointed directly by the Archduke of Deneb after the controversial fall of the Humbolt family. The Humbolts had ruled Vincennes for almost four centuries when they were removed from power and exiled in 628 for several violations of Imperial law, the most heinous of which was the exploitation and torture of the native sophonts of nearby Perez System. Following the Collapse and subsequent decline of the Imperial nobility, the wealthy Humbolt family made its return to Vincennes and reestablished their political hegemony on the planet in 1147. The largely Solomani population of Vincennes was eager to overthrow the Garhik Dynasty, the last vestige of the invasive Imperial Nobility on Vincennes, and the return of the Humbolts presented them with the opportunity.
The Humbolt family had lived for dozens of generations on a frontier world of spinward Gushemege Sector, but never lost hope for their eventual return to the world of their ancestors. Fleeing Virus and the effects of the Collapse, the Humbolts made their return to the Domain of Deneb scant months before the borders were closed.
It has been revealed in the years since their return that a large contingent of the Humbolt family remained on Vincennes throughout their exile, operating under the banner of several shadow corporations. These corporations may be more accurately described as cartels or syndicates whose primary function was the consolidation of industrial power under the yoke of the Humbolts. Five centuries of gradual political and corporate power bids gave the Humbolts a staggering advantage upon their “public” return to Vincennes. The current patriarch of the family, Gerhard Lewis Tolemi Humbolt III, maintains an intimidating presence on Vincennes, frequently interfering in the activities of major corporations and in VTCC operations when he can.
Many Vincenzi complain about the intrusiveness of the Humbolt family in corporate affairs, but most are willing to tolerate them. The Humbolt family serves as a symbol of defiance to Imperial and Regency authority, which to most Vincenzi justifies their continued presence.
For the most part, actual political power resides with the District Councils of each metroplex. Day-to-day legislative and judicial activities are the realm of the councils, who owe fealty and give lip service to the Humbolt family.
Military and Law Enforcement
Before the Collapse, Vincennes maintained their modest military and law enforcement requirements through The Special Branch, a relatively small police organization and considerable network of contractors. The ranks of The Special Branch have swelled to over 20 million permanent employees in recent years in order to combat the increasing presence of organized crime and the illegal activities of The Pack, the Vargr crime syndicate. The Special Branch continues to employ millions of contract employees in its law enforcement endeavors as well.
Traditionally, Vincennes maintained no standing army, but with the return of the Humbolts, a new emphasis on military strength has been established. Under the auspices of the Humbolts, the Vincenzi 1192nd Air Cavalry Division was formed to act in the defense of Vincennes in the event of an attack. The 1192nd officially reports to the Vice Marshall of the Regency Army, but the unit maintains an obvious pro-Humbolt stance. Scores of mercenary groups are employed to supplement military operations on Vincennes as well.
Though no formal naval base exists in Vincennes System, the Regency Navy maintains a large presence at Defense, Paven and Stopover, three of the outer-system worlds. Defense operates a considerable System Defense Boat and small Destroyer fleet. Paven, the primary agricultural producer of the system, is heavily guarded by a regiment of crack Regency Marines. Paven suffered a horrendous decline in production during a Rebellion-era famine thought to have been caused by planted biological agents. The marine garrison on Paven is intended to prevent another such occurrence. Stopover contains a refueling depot for Regency Naval ships.
Vincennes’ future is uncertain. The components to achieve the most impressive technological power in Imperial and Regency history are present, but many detractors and obstacles stand in her way. The coming decades will be crucial to Vincennes’ continued development both as a society and as a symbol of human innovative prowess. Most believe Vincennes can overcome these obstacles, but at best the planet’s destiny remains shadowed in doubt.