Sunday, May 17, 2015

Star Wars Sandbox: Alsapin

After we've had a look at the big picture in my previous posts on the Kreetan Narrows, let's go through each of the world in turn. First in the list is Alsapin, home of the Kassandre crime family, which (a) operates a major casino, (b) is engaging in a (quite possibly explosively terminal, if the PCs don't prevent it) conflict with a branch of the Black Sun syndicate operated by Sprax, and (c) is run by a female Laboi with telekinetic abilities (as I extrapolated here).

When I have little definite to go on when constructing a location, I like to use random generators for inspiration. Let's start by using the one in Silent Legions, since I have that, love it, haven't gotten to use it yet, and adding a slightly creepy Lovecraftian vibe is almost never a bad thing.. Rolling for two location tags, we get "Drug Epidemic" and "Recruitment Center". With the former, I am spoilt for choice considering the many crime families in the region (and it might not actually be the fault of the Kassandre Family, but of another syndicate wishing to cause problems on their turf). With the latter, while I could make this about a secretive Force Cult, I want to keep such things rare at this stage of the campaign. Instead, it could be for the Zealots of Psusan, which I mentioned earlier. The Laboi leader of the Kassandre Family - let's just call her Kassandre - might even be in cahoots with the cult. Or maybe not, considering how they view non-Laboi as prey...

But let's go back to my old favorite, the Random Nations Generator at the Arcana Wiki (remember, you can expand the "feed" for this generator by adding new content to the Wiki - so contribute to it, damnit!). For "Form of Government" we get Cosociational State, which in a Star Wars context probably means that there are a number of different alien species living on the planet who largely take care of their own affairs, but have a large Council where larger issues that affect different species are addressed. However, the Empire - taking cues from the British Imperialism School of Villainy - likely plays favoritism, giving one species more power and demanding less tribute from it - and put it in charge of keeping the others in line. This keeps the inevitable hatred concentrated on the local level - the different species will be so busy fighting each other that they won't unite against the Empire.

Moving on to Organizations, we get the Russian Business Network, which specializes in cybercrime - which implies that the Kassandre Family is also very good when it comes to code-breaking, slicing, and information brokering. Another result is Médecins Sans Frontières - apparently, a Core Worlds charity organization is on the planet and trying to do something against the drug epidemic. Presumably, they will experience some harassment/obstacles by the Imperial authorities, since they are unlikely to be keen on the problems of their worlds to be exposed - but not too much overt stuff, since they also have politically influential backers back in the Core Worlds.

Then we get Deep State (an anti-democratic, reactionary cabal within the establishment of Turkey) and Dark Enlightenment - a bunch of losers who post stuff online about how democracy is "fundamentally degenerative", liberal democracy is a "state religion", and "superior genetics" should determine who is in charge. Its main bloggers even call themselves "The Dark Lords of the Sith" - you just can't make that stuff up!

While the real Sith would likely eat these guys for breakfast, putting this in a Star Wars context likely means that Alsapin has a very active COMPNOR branch, who go out of their way to "prove" how inferior and degenerate those aliens really are. Considering the secrecy of the Deep State, they will probably hire all sorts of agents provocateurs to make trouble, and use any proof of alien strif for propaganda broadcasts that get shown all the way back in the Core Worlds.

Finally, we get the Order of the Veiled Prophet, and maybe they are the cult using the planet as a recruiting center, instead of the Zealots of Psusan - or maybe they are the same thing. So perhaps the Zealots meet on a regular basis to recite and discuss ancient poetry (written by Jedi? Sith? Other kinds of Force mystics), and every year there is this big event where one of the members is chosen as the "Queen" by the "Veiled Prophetess".

In the the "Major Personalities" section, we get James Wilkinson, a famous and skilled traitor. Let's make him (let's call him "Gar Haren", using the Star Wars Name Generator) a high-ranking Imperial Officer (possibly the highest-ranking on the planet - let's make him a General in the Army, since the military problems of the problems will likely be about controlling the world itself instead of space) who is not above selling military secrets to both the Hutts (for money) and the Rebels (to embarrass rivals) in order to further his career. He also frequently pilfers Imperial resources (selling them on the black market) to enrich himself, and has probably significant holdings on the planet and elsewhere. He hopes to supplant the current Moff.

Next up is Bertie Wooster (Star Wars name "Cen Felis"), who is "the Platonic Ideal of the Upper-Class Twit". Let's say he is from an important Core World family who got sent all the way out to Alsapin to get a high-ranking job in the local Imperial administration so that he can't embarass himself - but as he does next to no actual work in the administration, it falls to his servants (no doubt including at least one overly-anxious protocol droid) to get him out of trouble (possibly by asking the PCs for help - which will be both lucrative and silly jobs where maintaining appearances is all-important). He might also get entangled in Gar Haren's schemes, who knows a useful patsy when he sees one. And on further thoughts, let's make him from Corellia - with a fondness for participating in illegal swoop races. He actually is fairly competent at racing ("Corellian blood will tell!"), although the standards for "fairness" in Alsapin will likely differ from what he is familiar with.

Another entry is Pierre Parrant, one of the early frontier bootleggers. He is described as "pig-like" in appearance, so let's make his Star Wars equivalent ("Pugnub") a Gamorrean an unusually bright one, who came up with a new and potent variety of spice (possibly extracted from the fungi of his homeworld) and set up production in a remote frontier town. From there, he distributes it across the planet, where it is currently causing the drug epidemic mentioned earlier.

In the "Major Political Issues" section, we get "US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive". In Star Wars terms, this means that parts of major cities on the planet are planned to be bulldozed in order to make them "more economically viable" - but because this Star Wars, it probably (a) is primarily done to non-human neighborhoods, and (b) likely is part of some real estate speculation scheme on the part of Gar Haren.

Another issue is "Cracking Crime In Brazil", explaining how companies in Brazil sometimes make deals with criminal cartels - in exchange for protecting their property and employees, the company agrees not to assist the authorities in persecuting the cartel in any way. Certainly, the Kassandre Family will have similar deals in place.

We also get "Halliburton says radioactive material was stolen". Since nuclear weapons or power sources are not genre-appropriate for Star Wars, let's say there are minor deposits of Ionite on the planet - a material that interferes with electronics and deflector shields. And a shipment of the stuff was stolen - which makes it a great MacGuffin, as every faction in the sector will want to get it.

In the "Major Exports" section, we get Musk (extracted from native animals for export to both Hutt Space and the Core Worlds), liqueur, and algae-extracted synthetic fuel.

For "Forms of Worship" (which I interpret as being about the Zealots of Psusan, again), we get Ritual Purification, Polytheism, and Prosperity Theology - an interesting combination. So they worship a pantheon of female deities or spirits, Furthermore, they believe that "success" in life (however you define that) is a sign of favor from these spirits - so they help each other to achieve success in life, since the spirits also like it when women help each other (of course, donating heavily to the temple is encouraged). Furthermore, they believe that they should go ritual purification before worship after "unclean" activities, such as contact with men - which isn't forbidden, but you must be "clean" during worship. For shaking hands, this might merely involve washing hands, while intercourse might require a shower or a bath. Marriage is not forbidden, either - but the woman is expected to take charge of male partners in one way or another and lead the couple to success.

For "Worshiped Entities" I'm just picking any female deities that the random generator spits out: Hel, Cybele, Mormo, Lasa, Alpan, Lilith, Culsu, and Rán. If I get around to detailing the Zealots of Psusan further, these will be my starting point.

(As a side note, the Mythology Section of the Arcana Wiki could really use some further contributors - there are so many fascinating pantheons of real world history, and they all deserve some further exploration for how to use them and their forms of worship in a role-playing game context. And, of course, adding entries for their deities will allow them to be used in the Random Nations Generator as well. So if you have in-depth knowledge of a particular Mythology, please contribute to it!)

In the "Major Species" section, most listed species - being of a fantasy/mythology origin - will be inappropriate for Star Wars. Still, I note that the generator lists "Sasquatch" - and since Wookiees are essentially that, I'll stipulate that there is a hidden "safehouse" colony somewhere on the planet for escaped Wookiee slaves. There are also "Reptilians", which I interpret as Niktos (given the proximity to Hutt Space). I also get "Winged Reptilians" - let's just say those are Toydarians. Apart from the obligatory human presence, other local species will be determined by terrain and other local factors.

Before we get to the "Significant Creatures" section, let's jump ahead to "Dominant Terrain". While I want to avoid the classic single-biome planets so common in Star Wars, it is still thematically appropriate to have a clearly defined planetary landscape instead of the messy mixture found on Earth. Three types of primary terrain seem appropriate, and we get Glacier, Swamp, and Savanna. So... what I am imagining is a fairly cool planet with few oceans. Instead, most of the water on the planet is stored in glaciers on vast polar plateaus. In the spring, their boundaries start to melt and feed large swamp systems adjacent to them, and from there it travels to increasingly dry grasslands in the equatorial regions where it feeds some small, shallow seas. From there, the water precipitates and is eventually deposited back on the glaciers. Let's also say that the swamps are home to a vast variety of fungi - some of which can be converted into fuel (as in the "Major Exports" section), while others are used for the spice produced by Pugnub.

Now that the basic biomes, we can move on to the Significant Creatures - and many obscure cryptozooligical critters are perfectly suitable for Star Wars. The Gowrow, for example could be dropped into the swamplands without any changes. The Giant Penguin of Clearwater Beach could show up at large glacial lakes. The Northwest Pacific Tree Octopus could live in the forested areas of the swamps or savanna. And the Ozark Howler could inhabit remote regions of the grasslands.

Among the Cultural Influences, the first result I get is Azerbaijan. Since I don't know a thing about Azerbaijan, I will keep this in mind for further inspirational reading once I need to detail the planet further.

Now we get to "Historical Events", and the first result is "San Diego Menaced By Jumbo Squid". Which leads back to the swamp octopi mentioned earlier, so let's say that every few years these swamp octopi explode in population, leading them to leave the swamps in large numbers and attacking everything that gets in their way. This is a dangerous time - but their musk organs can be harvested and sold for a high profit.

There is also the "1908 New York to Paris Race", which we will interpret as an annual swoop race that is in fact a round trip around the entire planet! No doubt this is precisely the kind of thing Cen Felis will be interested in, and following around the various checkpoints along the route should be good for a series of adventures - not to mention showcasing the variety of the planet.

Furthermore, we get "Portal to mythical Mayan underworld found in Mexico", which we will interpret as some ancient Sith temple in a remote region. Combine this with "Doomsday Cult In Cave Stand Off", and we have some local cult of Sith worshipers - with only a vague understanding of the Sith and the Force - barricading themselves into the temple. Eventually, the proper Imperial authorities will learn of this and send an Inquisitor to take charge of the site. In the meantime, the PCs might get involved here.

Finally, we get the "Mysterium", a piece of music that, if properly played in a certain valley in the Himalayas, will end the world (according to its composer, at least). This ties in well with an entry in the "Famous Locations" section - "The Quietest Place on Earth - Orfield Labs". Let us say that the Sith carved a valley out of the polar mountains which they made supernaturally quiet - even to this day, sound is suppressed. But with the right focusing instruments, you could make sounds that... well, the effects would be nasty.

Another entry is Kitezh, a Russian sunken city. Let's say that this ties in to a Sith settlement that sunk during fights with the Jedi of old and now has vanished into the swamp - but even to this day, it is a focus of Dark Side energies.

The last entry is the Drones Club - which is linked to Bertie Wooster, and thus our Star Wars equivalent Cen Felis. It's likely a place for all the upper-class expatriates from the Core Worlds (businessmen, high-ranking administrators, Imperial officers) where they can hang out and complain how primitive this world is, as well as doing some social networking. Naturally, PCs would normally not be invited to such a place - but they might have to infiltrate it for an adventure.

With this, I've come to the end of the entries in the Random Numbers Generator, and now have plenty of details for embelleshing the world of Alsapin later, should I find the time. Hopefully I have also demonstrated how useful said demonstrator is, and I encourage you to contribute to the Arcana Wiki so that it can grow!