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The Crucible Campaign: Travelling In the Commonwealth: The Badlands

"The Prince of Wu took a boat to Monkey Mountain. As soon as the monkeys saw him they all fled in panic and hid in the treetops. One monkey, however, remained, completely unconcerned, swinging from branch to branch-an extraordinary display! The Prince shot an arrow at the monkey, but the monkey dexterously caught the arrow in midflight. At this the Prince ordered his attendants to make a concerted attack. In an instant the monkey was shot full of arrows and fell dead.

The the Prince turned to his companion Yen Pu'i: "You see what happened?" He said. "This animal advertised his cleverness. He trusted in his own skill. He thought no one could touch him. Remember that! Do no rely upon distinction and talent when you deal with men!""

-The Tao of Chuang Tzu



Political Organization

Local community governments ranging from autocratic family structures to participatory democratic councils. Most of these governments have itinerant liason officers provided by the Astrogation Patrol whose frequent visits or layovers allow at least a slippery grip upon the allegiances of these communities. Most famous of these governments is the ruling council of Freeport, an Oort Cloud community in Keng/Regina (Spinward Marches 2405), which was virtually independent of the Imperial government before the Civil War.


Though the Badlands are not a full, unitary member state of the Commonwealth per se, they are considered sovereign entities and are granted their own heraldry. The symbol of the Badlands is a jet black sky surrounded by a scarlet sunburst halo. Outlander communities adorn their property and spacecraft with a jet black eagle's head in front profile, with red tinted eyes representing discernment and vigilance.


The term Badlands is traditionally used in the Commonwealth for all of space beyond the 100 diameter perimeter surrounding inhabited worlds. In a political or socioeconomic context it refers to deep space colonies or settlements that are independent of the main planetary government, and are nominally loyal to the federation and Commonwealth government (or at least recognizes its sovereignty).

Because the term "Badlander" is awkward, the permanent or frequent inhabitants of these colonies are simply known as Outlanders. This term, for the sake of convenience, is a cultural term. Chiefly it refers to deep space communities and populations that depend economically more upon each other, or feel more kinship and need for contact, with each other than with more settled mainstream worlds and colonies. It is a little vague, being a catchall for just about every conceivable sort of demographic and economic category. At these distances, it is easier for communities to keep in contact with anyone via normal jumpspace communications than normal sublight travel, and temporal distancing makes it easier for communities to relate to their likeminded cousins because of their shared hardships than with more sedate mainworlds. Many populations that subsist in this twilight zone are transient, usually consisting of belters and scavengers that move according to their relative fortunes. But then again there exists communities of many sorts, from space stations to permanent outposts on airless worlds or Kuiper Objects, that are occupied year-round, and whose populations fluctuate little.

This is the true borderland of the Commonwealth, where the military and services cannot back those imaginary straight lines with their constant presence. And it is an important entrepot for entry and exit. Because of the immense distances of space, and an abundance of deep space refueling sources, it is impossible to stop the flow of outside persons, vessels and goods that evade the mainworlds. The best that the Commonwealth government can do is to provide enough security and basic amenities to these communities, along with limited political participation, to ensure that their loyalties and allegiances are aligned more towards Mora than with predatory outside influences. Fortunately the vast majority of these communities are of Commonwealth humans displaced by earlier crisis or conflicts, though their feelings towards their government is one of grudging acceptance.

Outlanders are culturally diverse, but all of their communities have had to develop critical survival skills given the narrow margins they subsist upon. Their cathedral is the carnival, but within its original religious meaning than a tawdry commercial thrills. During Terra's early Bronze Age, the king was really a ritual person who acted as a vessel for the invisible covenant between the community and all unseen forces of nature and god. He or she was a microcosm of the world around them, and they contained all of the motives and forces at work, light and dark. When the forces of death and vice had accumulated to the point of overwhelming that universe, the king would be killed or sacrificed and a new king would ascend to represent a new beginning. Eventually, the king became an actual politician, and the ritual killing was eschewed for the creation of a symbolic purgation that mimicked the court. This was the "carnivale" (departure of the flesh) a period of bacchinalia that surfaced and then destroyed the black vices of the community, either through scapegoats (the harlequin or clown) or through street theater. The carnival world exists as a fey parallel to the real one, and the persons that inhabited it possessed no useful talents, or talents that were too subversive or dangerous to be normally entertained. (This is why entertainers had such a low stock in premodern Terran society: because they were dirty, obnoxious, subversive and possessed just about every other tawdry form of human vice and disrepute.) In the modern age the carnivalesque and normal society began to merge together. Anything that is "out of bounds" is considered to be carnivalesque, meaning that any social or biological extreme is of interest.

The Badlands would be by definition the extreme, in terms of distances from the mainstream both physically and mentally. Given the adverse conditions required to repair or heal without expensive supporting infrastructure, and the lack of readily available professional and specialist workers, creates by necessity a high flying improvisational streak. In this realm skills that are considered hobbys on the mainworlds are necessary behavior for survival. In the real Carnival acrobats symbolise the deceptive grace of society by showing how various gravitational forces can pull apart the community. Versatility and mental agility are prized attributes for both their utility in zero-G environments and because of their instructiveness to these deeply isolated communities about the importance of working together. The fool/clown is a mirror negative that reveals our vices and temptation to folly. The entertainment they provide masks a motive to encourage people to defend against excessive vanity, envy (AKA the Evil Eye) and lust, all of these being vices that can corrode the trust and integrity essential to these communities. Entertainment can also be a peaceful means of reaching consensus without excessive struggle between authority and destructive rebels. The sideshow is meant to engage the curiously conjoined emotions of repulsion and attraction and balance them out as empathy.

The outcome of this tendency for carnivale is to create a people who are perhaps overrepresented in realms of talent. They are extremely active in culture, producing virtuosos in artistic and intellectual pursuits as well as intramural sports. Beyond their communities their best and brightest cut a swath through mainstream educational and institutional boundaries. Some of the Commonwealth's most brilliant artists and scientists have emerged from their communities. Talent is paramount over consistency within objective institutions or testing systems, and these people can be as erratic and ornery with the mainstream culture as they are brilliant. Off of the playing fields responsible persons are obligated to a minimum amount of paramilitary training and drilling, creating capable militia units that can operate fabulously in their home environments. Their natural curiosity usually leads them to extensively map the outer systems of the Commonwealth, and they have great expertise in astronomy, geology and the life sciences. But they rarely demonstrate these talents without prompting from people they can trust.

Despite their preference for others on the same tightrope, and distrust of outsiders, they are famously hospitable. Isolation and remoteness are dangerous to various levels of the community's survival, and every opportunity is taken to relate to strangers. The celestime law is strictly enforced by community elders, and no community will refuse an outsider in need. Family loyalties are dictated by clan boundaries, and marriage alliances are the backbone of political networking, but marriages with outsiders are common for the simple reason that they replenish their gene pools. When a person marries into a clan, they are in for life, and must abide by the decisions of community elders and councils. Honor codes obligate persons to uphold personal integrity and subordinate their own talents to the survival of the community.

Survival is tantamount to these communities, however, and tend to evince a deceptive neutrality in their political dealings with Non-Commoner populations. Though they tend to distrust the Commonwealth government, they have more respect for its dealings than the multitude of piratical pocket empires that have emerged outside of its boundaries. They will extend hospitality to even the most ruthless of interlopers, and they can disarmingly charm the pants off of outsiders in their willingness to cater to their every whim. But the moment that these persons leave their company, they quickly become prey for the Patrol and Navy units that have taken up concealed positions during the interval of their stay. And they keep careful track of everything that passes through their ports, and report the worst parts to the government. That is not to say that their loyalty cuts just one way, for they don't rely upon anyone to make their lives safe, and the government has learned to accept their restrained lawlessness as the price of doing business.


Very diverse, though Imperial culture humans constitute the largest minority. The remainder is primarily Sword Worlder (refugees displaced by the Crucible War) and Vargr. Aslan and K'kree are rarely found here, and no minor races are known to be native.


Outlander communities exist wherever it is economically possible. Most high population worlds support at least a few deep space communities, legal or otherwise. But their distribution is uneven, thanks to the Collapse and Quarantine. In the wake of the Rape of Trin, most Outlander communities in Deneb and Reft Sectors were abandoned or evacuated to prevent Virus from obtaining a foothold, and the population was replaced with observation and garrison units. Outside of these regions, eighty percent of the Outlander population is found in the trailing subsectors of the Spinward Marches, centered roughly around the intersections of Lanth, Rhylanor, Lunion and Mora subsector. The majority of their communities are found either as outsystem colonies, or as settled worlds around the companion stars in binary and trinary systems.

Outlander Careers

Outlander Emissary
These are the specially trained and highly experienced "hostages of fate" assigned to dealing with interlopers that inconveniently appear on the doorstep of Outlander communities. This use bluff, gabby nonsense, psychological and emotional manipulation, obfuscation, white lies and some outright prevarication to disarm, discourage, distract or completely bamboozle pirates and other riffraff long enough for the cavalry to arrive.
INT and CHR 7+, Badland native
First Term
Charm-3, Language-1, Interaction-2, Economics-1
Subsequent Terms
Charm, Interaction, Determination, Spacehand and Explore
Special Duty
7+ for Explore, Animal Handling, Vehicle, Melee, Personal Transport and Vice
3 (Criminal, Navy/Patrol and Trader) per term
Other Effects
+1 SOC per term among Outlanders. In the rest of the Commonwealth is initial SOC +2. Use Outland SOC ranking to determine starting cash

Library Data

Term used to describe the transition into a gravity well. For worlds this is a line between 25 and 100 diameters, from the inner harbor of a world to the safe jump line. Few ships take up orbit here, unless they are visiting a distant satellite.
The inner orbital zone of a world's gravity well. This is usually between the surface and the 25 diameter limit. Orbital velocities are lower in this area, and most ships that enter it are committed to doing business with the planetary environment, rather than merely using the gravity well to increase escape velocity.