This article was originally posted to the pre-magazine Freelance Traveller website as a RICE Paper in 1995, and lightly edited into this form for reprinting in the June/July 2014 issue.
There is some debate in Scout circles on whether Iper’mar nomads should be treated as a world, as a cultural group or as an Imperial client state: for the purposes of this RICE Paper, they are being treated as a cultural group. Even though they are not a world per se (although they do have territory: see following) the Regency Institute for Cultural Education has decided that this culture is important and unique enough to merit a paper on them, especially considering the value of their work as unsung but important members of the Regency community.
The Iper’mar (‘Refugees’ in Old Kurę) can be found throughout the Regency, but are noticeable in Querion, Vilis, Lanth, Lunion, Five Sisters, Plankwell, Glisten and Trin’s Shroud subsectors, as well as throughout the Regency portions of the Trojan Reaches. Most casual tourists will meet them around starports, public functions or supervising and designing the operation of high-tech equipment on low-tech worlds.
Often, the Iper’marion (singular of Iper’mar) will be wearing the uniform of his contractor—often a large, Regency-wide corporation, or local clothing. On their own ships and installations, they prefer simple short-and-shirt overalls, often in some dull shade of khaki or grey, but with bright accessories (flashy jackets, oversized jewelry, and high boots for women; aviation helmets (with engraved family glyphs), humongous capes and complex, ever-changing TL D-E bodypaint illustrations for men). They don’t use deodorants, but do use sonic showers.
Their Anglic is quite clear, but somewhat high-pitched. About one out of five can still speak Old Kurę, the mother tongue. Many of the upper and upper-middle classes can speak 3 or more human languages: they’re somewhat racist, and avoid dealing with Vargr, Aslan, or other non-humans when possible. However, they are absolutely fascinated with the Zhodani, not so much for their psionics, but with their culture.
The Iper’mar are proud of their technical expertise, (they consider TL E items as beneath them, and absolutely adore little TL G trinkets), and tend to be condescending to those from worlds below TL F. Many have a ‘colonial master’ attitude to low-tech commoners that they are in charge of, but can respect low-tech rulers and merchants… if they are good. They will never demean a low-tech client to their face, but if tested, have subtle ways of letting their feelings be known.
Within the Regency, Iper’mar business practices are ethically impeccable: they realise that the Regent won’t stand by and let High-tech nomads rip off Low-tech locals. Moreover, they like to have long-term relationships with their clients, relationships that flourish best in an atmosphere of trust. Finally, they value their business reputation: they have been nomadic for over 450 years, and interstellar traders for another 200 years, and know what doors a good rep can open.
Outside of the Regency, their practices are somewhat more… flexible.
Government within the Iper’mar is by neo-tribal democratic methods, similar to that of Tausus (Spinward Marches/1138: B584620-A), but with greater reliance on AI (non-viral). The Archon—or the top ruler of the tribe—is little more powerful then his fellow tribal lords, but has the Noble rank of Marquis. Integration with the new democratic elements of the Regency is going quite smoothly.
Because of their support (above and beyond the call of duty) of the Imperial government within the Empty Quarter they were granted certain legal privileges, rendering their ships effectively immune to searches by system governments, by Emperor Gavin. The Iper’mar remain rather civic-minded for interstellar nomads, and will support the Regency when they can. They generally want the rest of the Imperium to be re-integrated, but carefully and slowly and with caution… the Iper’mar use the best anti-viral technology on the market, but still deeply dread any kind of outbreak. (Iper’mar ships started to revisit Trin only 7 years ago!)
The religious attitudes of the Iper’mar are rather bland, generally worshipping as the locals do. They have no real strong religious feelings, and—on their ships and bases—prefer to philosophize about the gods rather than pray to them. The dead tend to be simply buried on some world or other (according to local custom), and eventually forgotten.
Most Iper’mar are of “Imperial” descent—that is, of Solomani/Vilani mixture, but also have strains of four different minor races (including the Daryen). Most run on the tall side, but all can easily function in one gee: their ships are set to 1G largely because they have to go dirtside so often in their line of work. There were at least four different “races” of Iper’mar pre-Rebellion, but the only known surviving one—the Deneb branch of the culture—is of light complexion, with brown to sandy blond hair, large facial features, and dark eyes.
There are 8.34 million Iper’mar within current Regency borders (down from about 30 million, Imperium-wide, before the Rebellion/Collapse). Roughly 5 million are in two deep space bases, Laro Dif (‘The Twilight Star’ in Old Kurę) and He’seme (‘Gentle Starlight’). While their location is known to the Regency Navy, the Iper’mar are secretive regarding their location to outsiders. Only 500,000 are on the roughly 1400 starships that the Iper’mar own at any given time: most of the rest are on ‘ground assignment’ helping to design, maintain, and sometimes build high-tech items for their low-tech clientele (or low-tech items using high-tech knowledge or methods). Outside of the Regency, roughly 72,000 are known to reside within the Zhodani Consulate: roughly 1.2 million operate spinward of the Spinward marches, mainly in The Beyond and Far Frontiers sectors.
Insistent rumours about ‘the lost clans’ somewhere in the Wilds are generally discounted by the Iper’mar themselves: because of their proclivity towards high-tech equipment, they were probably more vulnerable to the AI Virus than the free traders. (Nevertheless, there are surviving Iper’mar in the former Imperium.)
The Iper’mar are interstellar nomads, originating from the Great Dimurik Miim War of 740. Essentially, the Iper’mar are the decendants of a number of powerful trading families from Kurę, a once-notable world that suffered through a impoverishing and destructive series of wars from 723 to 792. As their wealth was being seized by the governments involved in the Dimurik Miim War, the merchants choose to flee the system, surviving first as a merchant line, but by 800 their livelihood was earned as a mobile professional knowledge elite, trading on their technical expertise.
From Zarushagar sector, they spread throughout the Imperium coreward of Zarushagar, and were especially prominent in comparatively low-tech regions of the Imperium like the Spinward Marches and the Empty Quarter. Specializing in providing workable high-tech solutions to low-tech systems, the Iper’mar were (and in the Regency, remain) one of the binding forces of the interstellar community.
The Kurę system is located in Zarushagar sector, hex 0503: UWP fell from A66794B-D in 700 to X667872-A by 800; the UWP was D667989-6 just before the Rebellion. By 930, the Republic of Haasii, the government of Kurę, was attempting to lure the Iper’mar back to Kurę; about 418,000, or 7% of the total Iper’mar population, were residing on Kurę by 1100.
As an interstellar business and as a culture, they suffered bitterly during the Rebellion. Their stock-in-trade needs safe starlanes in order to work: without it, they were forced to stay dirtside, trying to survive in an unfamiliar, deteriorating enviroment.
Even in the Spinward Marches, where the Iper’mar both had semi-safe trade routes (thanks to the Domain Navy) and a solid economic environment (the Archduke often used their services in order to save damaged and doomed worlds within the Domain), they still had to suffer heavy drafts—both military and otherwise—and a skyrocketing tax rate. Afterward, in the wake of Virus, the Iper’mar had to cope with virus-proofing their installations and ships, a very expensive endeavor. (They are still paying off the cost of it.)
First arriving in the Marches c. 820, the Iper’mar rapidly gained prominence within the hostile-environment branch of the construction industry as low-cost producers, eventually becoming so successful as to become a favoured subcontractor for several megacorps working in the region. They expanded to the starport construction industry in the 940s, and invested in both planetary weather management (designing and overseeing controlled weather systems for poor and low-tech governments) and experimented briefly in mass robot construction gangs from the 1090s to the Rebellion period.
In the post-Collapse period, the Iper’mar specialized in helping low-tech governments (up to TL D, in some cases) virus-proof starports, communication equipment, etc.—largely under the Regency ęgis. They also made some real money, rebuilding the rimward Regency border regions from Aslan attack.
Currently, the Iper’mar are in a great debate on whether they should expand into the Wilds. As TL F people, they are extremely vulnerable to Virus infections, but the scale of the money to be made is simply mind-boggling. The Iper’mar are constantly on the lookout for ways to reduce their vulnerability to the AI Virus: they will pay any price for a reliable, broad-spectrum “vaccine” for Virus.
Starship Design Philosophies
The classic, instantly-recognizable ship of the Iper’mar is the Or Viasic-class liner, built to a closely-guarded design on Rhylanor. Built to house 84 field specialists and their families, it’s a common sight on low-tech starports and the poorer worlds.
With an extensive communication suite, it can be used as a orbiting or space-borne operations and control platform for a variety of projects. The design accompanying this article is meant for Regency operations: for out-of-Regency projects, starmercs are usually hired for protection. Note the lack of cargo space: Iper’mar clients usually either arrange cargo transportation separately or the Iper’marion clanlord will outsource this to non-Iper’mar traders. Note the main deficiency in this design: no small craft capacity. This is considered “a waste of space” by the Iper’mar: the same people who installed 123 apartments on their ship, of 400 kl each!
Non-Imperial Iper’mar use the same design, but routinely make extensive modifications, adding internal armour, lasers, sandcasters, MFDs, and extensive cargo space. (No, they don’t have docking bays: they prefer to use the cargo bay to store vehicles.) This cuts down on living space drastically: Non-Imperial Iper’mar are considered the ‘poor cousins’ of the Iper’mar due to the routine indignities they have to put up with, from having to sleep four to a small stateroom (vs. the small apartments on the ship below) to having to actually use the ‘repair facilities’ (the term is used derisively) of a TL C, Starport D world, to having to actually use Inferior Equipment (anything below TL F) to repair their ship.
The thing that Non-Imperial Iper’mar have to worry about most is adding or repairing their ship with Strange Tech. (“Strange Tech” includes any electronic item, hard or software, that isn’t of Regency (or, in a pinch, Zhodani) manufacture, still untouched and shrink wrapped). The legends and tales surrounding Strange Tech is a sure party-pleaser in most starport bars.
Powerful and wealthy Clanlords tend to drastically cut the amount of personnel on their ships, using the space for parks, gyms, pools, etc. The Archon’s ship is practically a jump-capable party, as he “liases” with subsector-to-Regency notables, and the occasional visiting Zhodani: Aslan and Vargr are never invited.
Important Note: Non-Imperial Iper’mar have no problem with using robots on their ships: however, these robots are never permitted to communicate to the outside world, never leave the ship, and are forbidden to handle Strange Tech until the owner has O.K.’ed it.
Or Viasic-class Nomadic Starship: standard Regency configuration
Disp 8000 Hull Armour 20 P Plant 4500 MW (11 MW surplus) Len 90 m Volume 112000 Jump 4 Price 2329 MCr Tech F G-Rating 2 Config Dome USL Size M G-Turns 43.8 Mass 34263/30959 mt Maint. 1369 Computer TL F × 3 (st) Commo 1 × Maser (1000 AU) 10 × Radio (3000 km) 10 × Laser (300000 km) Sensors A-EMS (30 000 km), P-EMS (30 000 km) Avionics, Terrain (190 kph) Extended L.S. w/ AG Crew - 492 Maintenance - 5 “Family” - 369 Engineering - 14 Troops - 5 Electrical - 5 Command - 6 Maneuver - 2 Specialists - 84 Accomo: Sm. Apartments × 123 [ Sm. Apartments: Vol 400, Mass 30, MW .01, Mcr 1, Hit 7 H ] [ Each apartment holds an Emergency Low Berth for four] No Cargo Air Locks × 80 Scoops: refill all in 10 hr 4 min, jfuel in 6 hr 15 min, manoeuver fuel in 4 hr 11 min Fuel Purification: all jfuel in 12 hours 8 additional Emergency Low Berths 20 extra regular workstations Combat 21/21 Travel 450/675 Surface Area 1 1 1 - 19 Radio, Laser Ant 20 Maser, A-EMS ant 2 - 20 Hull 2 - 20 Hull Damage Area 1 1 - 5 Elect 6 - 10 Quarters 11 - 20 Hold (fuel) 2 - 9 Hold (fuel) 10 - 17 Hold (fuel) 18 - 19 Engineering 20 Quarters System Damage Electronics Maser, 10 × Radio, 10 × Laser, A-EMS, P-EMS(1h) Ant (1h) Hold (fuel only) Quarters Sm. Apartments 7 H × 123 L.S. 44 H E.L.S. 22 H A.G. 23 H Emg. L.B. (extra) (1h) × 8 Engineering Jump Drive 112 H HEPlaR 3 H Power Plant 15 H Fuel Pur 56 H Contra Grav 16 H