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The Crucible Campaign

Peter Gray has developed an extensive campaign background for the New Era, based on a somewhat different extrapolation from the events of the Rebellion and early published New Era. It is presented here as an alternative to the TNE:1248 material from Quiklink Interactive. The following text is Peter's discussion of the background leading to the development of the campaign, rather than being actual campaign material

While my reasons for this campaign are rooted in some degree of personal controversy (let's just say that this was "Plan B"), the original ideas and rationales for it are rooted in a mixture of personal and philosophical convictions I've idly played with for years. The root of this campaign is best summed up by an old Merle Haggard song, "Rainbow Stew":

If the President did what he promised,
And everyone did what they were supposed to
then we would be drinking the free bubble-up,
And eating that Rainbow Stew.

(I'm most likely paraphrasing, sorry, but my memory isn't what it used to be)

Ole Merle is a native of where I happen to live, and the town he was born in and raised is a hardscrabble place that was born of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years. What kept it (and Merle's Okie parents) alive through hardship was a mixture of a strong community ties, government assistance in the form of social insurance programs, and a sense that there was no way but up. These community ties are still evident, and the old Depression era houses are still around, and remarkably good repair, that have the "WPA" (Works Projects Administration) brands in their poured cement sidewalks and steps in honor of the government money that built them.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, a romantic, or a crank, but I prefer the old community centered humanism and ethical conservatism of Depression-era America to the overly commercialistic, mean spirited fragmentation that pervades this day and age. Merle's song itself encapsulates the "can-do" optimism of the postwar period that grew out of collective struggle and sacrifice, before government bungling and corporate greed undermined it. Maybe it is impossible to go back to that spirit, but that's the magic of science fiction, in that it can reflect alternative social structures.

The Commonwealth of Deneb is built upon a deeper version of that humanism, a social contract dictated from the bottom of society by the survivors of a double tragedy: the destruction of the Imperium in the Final War, and the willful self-destruction of the Regency of Deneb in the Crucible War. Both of these conflicts were willful events brought about by egocentric monsters in the name of their own self interest, willing to sacrifice the larger community for a single, bloody handful of self-righteousness. Their descendants are mindful of the saying that goes, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." The elders of the Commonwealth, at the local planetary and the greater interstellar levels are intent upon never having to suffer a fatal third time. To that end they have created a society that is much more conservative than that of the doomed Imperium, much more reminiscent of pre-World War 2 America in its rejection of market-based morality in favor of a more democratic ethical covenant that grows naturally out of community traditions, and the best features of progressive programs.

The three most important convictions of the Commonwealth are a belief in individual freedom, a collective vision of human or humane progress tempered by experience, and the creation of a culture that does not denigrate persons and communities by forcing or enticing them into positions of self-pity or self-abasement. The Flame philosophy is taken very seriously by Commoners, and do not merely consider it to be a slogan or a philosophical conceit. Three terms define the different levels of the Commonwealth:

Refers collectively to the nation, and a government of, by and for the people
Refers to the physical extent of the Commonwealth, and the physical domain of the republic outside that of the speaker
Term used to refer to individual citizens of the Commonwealth, by themselves or in groups

As of December 2007, the Crucible Campaign is an open campaign. Players that are interested in contributing material are invited to do so as they see fit. There only a few stipulations:

  1. Material must be faithful to the campaign setting. No off-the-wall postings or thinly disguised flame attacks will be accepted.
  2. All material must be posted to either my e-mail at emptiedboat@yahoo.com or on the TNE-RCES mailing list.
  3. Material to be posted upon Freelance Traveller will be personally vetted for content approval.
  4. Please focus your postings upon the region known colloquially to Traveller players as "Behind the Claw." If material is adapted from other campaign settings it must have some valid explanation for its presence in Crucible.
  5. As long as material fits the above criteria, I will accept all of the usual forms of Traveller articles (starships, characters, world writeups, tech etc....)