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*Freelance Traveller/The RICE Archives

The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource

RICE Paper #0: Introduction to the RICE Archives

1. What is RICE?

RICE, the Regency Institute for Cultural Education, is a non-governmental organization dedicated to increasing the level of knowledge and understanding of the various cultures that the traveller may encounter within the Regency and in its immediate neighbor stellar states. This mission is carried out through our efforts to keep the Regency Library Data network as up-to-date as possible, and out distribution of information directly to travellers on request, through such publications as this series of RICE Papers, and our representatives at traveller assistance centers, including, but not limited to, facilities operated by the Travellers' Aid Society. We are funded by a combination of tourism corporations, the Travellers' Aid Society and similar extra-Regency organizations, and private donations.

2. The History of RICE.

When the borders of the Domain of Deneb were sealed late in 1129, the resulting panic caused an upsurge in isolationism, and a general decrease in economic activity on the interstellar level. The Domain government, in an effort to prevent the fragmentation of the Domain, instituted massive efforts to promote interstellar tourism and commerce, and to publicize the successful efforts of the Patrol (later the Regency Quarantine Service) in preventing the infiltration of Virus into the Domain. One of these efforts was the Deneb Cultural Exchange (DCE), which had much the same mission as RICE today. However, as a governmental agency, the information available was limited to that which the various worlds of the Domain chose to make available.

Simultaneously, the Travellers' Aid Society created the parallel Deneb Travellers' Exchange (DTE), which made an effort to get accurate information from field researchers, but which was drastically underfunded, due to a dropoff in the level of utilization of TAS facilities. In 1145, after the liberalization of the Domain government, and the subsequent reorganization into the Regency, and rapproachement with the Zhodani, Vargr, and Aslan, the DCE was privatized and operated by a consortium of megacorporate tourism subsidiaries.

Shortly thereafter, an agreement with the Travellers' Aid Society allowed the DCE and the DTE to share information and facilities. In 1160, the arrangement was formalized, and RICE was created. Now, we have been asked by various planetary and interstellar governments to expand our target audience, from those who have already decided that travelling is what they'd like to do, to the general public. Thus, the RICE Papers, of which this is the first.

3. What Are the RICE Papers?

The RICE Papers were originally conceived of as a set of pamphlets focussing on a single aspect of a culture that a traveller should be aware of. When we submitted several drafts to various governments, we were advised that our original format was indeed useful, but that we should also provide broad overviews of the various planetary cultures, preferably in a format that could give the reader an idea of what would typically be encountered in the course of a visit to the culture in question. Thus, there will be two series of RICE Papers. Numbered RICE Papers will provide the broad overview, while lettered RICE Papers will cover one specific topic in somewhat greater depth. The lettered RICE Papers are actually associated with a particular numbered RICE Paper, and the letter will be prefixed by the number of the corresponding numbered RICE Paper. Thus, if RICE Paper #1643 is on the planet Ruie, then a RICE Paper focussing specifically on the legal system on Ruie might be RICE Paper #1643-A, and a RICE Paper focussing on local cuisine might be RICE Paper #1643-B.

In late 1202, at the quadrennial meeting of the Board of Trustees, it was unanimously agreed that the previous restrictions on the content of RICE Papers was inappropriate to the Institute's mission. As a result of that meeting, the Institute formally acknowledged an "Imperial" culture, which was not tied to any particular planet, and officially opened up the allowable content of RICE Papers to permit a focus on particular aspects of Imperial culture as well as on that of individual planets. The response to this move has been generally positive.

4. How Do I Read a RICE Paper?

RICE Papers are mostly ordinary text narratives. However, as a convenience, we are also providing extended UWP data, in a DGP-based format, for RICE Papers on particular planets. These should be interpreted as described in RICE Paper #0-A, Interpreting the RICE UWP Profile, and the text considered in that light. In that document, we have included a sample extended UWP, with brief annotations. Also, be aware that information provided by a RICE Paper is correct according to the best information available to us at the time of publication. Governments change, and information may be misinterpreted by our field researchers. It is recommended that you verify any information that you feel may affect you both before embarking on your trip, and before leaving the starport extraterritoriality zone on your destination world. While we encourage people to leave the extraterritoriality zone and immerse themselves in the local culture, we recognize that under some circumstances it may be inadvisable to do so, and acknowledge that one can get a taste of the local culture, and have an enjoyable trip, without leaving the zone.

5. How Do I Get the RICE Papers?

RICE Papers are placed on the Library Data network, via the Traveller's Mailing List, as they are ready, and copies of the text can be retrieved from the network databases, including the RICE Archives at Freelance Traveller as required. There are future plans for making hardcopy available, but these plans have not been finalized yet.

6. When Will the RICE Paper for {insert chosen topic here} Be Available?

In order to get the highest quality reports from the field, we have chosen not to require that a particular topic be done at a particular time. We do record requests, and, when demand warrants, add requested topics to a list of the "Ten Most Desired Topics" distributed to all RICE Liason Offices. As field researchers choose to research one of these topics, they are removed from this list. However, we do not require that a researcher choose a topic from this list, and in fact, many of our researchers will deliberately avoid any topic on the list, preferring to search out that one particular undiscovered gem that is well outside normal expectations. We believe, as indicated, that we will get better reports from this policy, and that this will better serve those who are looking for surprising and interesting insights into the culture of the Imperium and its member planets. If you wish to see a RICE Paper on a particular topic, you may request that it be put on the Desired Topics list by submitting a Feedback request through the RICE Archives at Freelance Traveller.