Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
* Duchy of Tharn
Dominant Nation-State of Gollere
The central and controlling nation-state of System – Gollere, formerly known as the Central Tharn Authority, the Duchy of Tharn is the primary industrial and governing center of the planet. It boasts the bulk of the planet’s industries, most of its population, and is the site of the planetary starport.
In early-3026, the state was reduced in overall power and placed under * “The Iron Dingoes” as their newest landhold, with the bulk of the old regional bureaucracy remaining in place. It was formally declared the Duchy of Tharn, on March 5th, 3026, and has undergone numerous modernization efforts since, including the assignment of Governor Jenna Marcuro as the first female governor of the nation. Her efforts to convert the bureaucracy into a meritocracy have begun to show some fruit, and she has gained the loyalty of many of the nation’s former lower and middle government officials.
Tharn’s Old Capital Building
The government of Tharn was originally vested in The Mangai, the united council of planetary manufacturing and trade corporations, each of which holds a monopoly over some aspect of the economy. The nation-state of Tharn presented itself as the host of this bureaucracy, and until recently, supported much of its personal interests. In early-3026, however, the bureaucracy of Tharn’s administrative branch was stripped of the holding and it was made a formal Duchy and independent member of the executive branch through Colonel “Pitbull”, when he ascended to the Mangai as the Duke of Tharn.
Although regular out-system trade exists with the world, there is little off-world traffic due primarily to the low technology of its industries, and though the rigid controls over off-world travel have largely been removed. This has begun to shift, as off-world trade of Tharn’s excess goods (mostly textiles, processed seafood, and iron/lead ore), is being exported directly to System – Dumassas, while it accepts many of the consumer goods and other products that nation happily sells. In addition, about 10% of the planet’s goods are directly traded with System – Pa’an, making that system another important trade partner, and in some people’s eyes, one more province of Gollere.
The nation sits just south of the equator, on the east coast of the Middle Sea, a salt-water body that dominates the central portions of the world. The northern band of the Thornwoods are dense and constantly filled with rainstorms and rugged, stringy growths of thornwood that have stalled exploitation of the region.
The coastal regions south of the Middle Sea are not well-suited to settlement, being swampy and a vast series of mud flats. The regions south-east of the coast, however, are known as the Middle Plateau, a well-watered, rich grassland that has taken well to agriculture, and hosts the bulk of the nation’s population, nearly 12,000,000 citizens. The Fountain Mountains rise east of this region, and host the headwaters of the Saltdragon River, the largest water-source that stretches through the plains to drain into the Middle Sea near the capital of Lantern City.
Tharn Middle Plateau
Tharn is the trade hub of the planet; all the resource colonies of the world ship their goods and resources (with a few exceptions) to Tharn, where it is either processed and returned as consumer goods, or shipped off-world under the direction of the Mangai’s appropriate guilds. The introduction of Dingo Brand Corporation to the local economy in early-3028, has been slow to expand in the cities, but has shown a direct appeal to the rural farmers, as a direct market for their goods, has proven popular. With the sheer number of rural communities, however, the roll-out is occupying most of that company’s profits, though it the has potential for large profits in the long-run. It has led to a definite reinvestment in smaller communities far outside the influence of the capital, and brings in off-world consumer goods, most of which are Dingoes (or their allies) own production.
Unlike most of the planet, off-world currency has some value in Tharn, though letters of trade have more value to the region’s merchants, as they are commonly used by industrial and agricultural concerns to pay their workers, rather than deal in the world’s gold and silver bits. The C-Bill is worth 3.5 Gold Bits (350 Silver Bits to the Gold Bit), and the Davion Pound is worth roughly 3.75 Gold Bits. For comparison, a typical laborer earns roughly 180 silver bits a month in wages, and a small urban apartment costs around 50 silver bits a month in rent.
While out-system trade is mostly with irregular shipments through independent merchants from the Inner Sphere, or regular Excalibur Corporation merchant traffic along the Candle Route from deeper in the Periphery, the neighboring System – Pa’an is a common destination for the planet’s technical prowess, as that world lacks the population to support much of its own industrial development. In many ways, Pa’an is something of a large resource colony to the Mangai, and is their primary off-world market.
Nationally, the Saltdragon River, the Middle Sea, and a well-developed series of roads provide a capable infrastructure in support of the nation’s economy and fuel its industrial might. Muddywater, the western-most town of significance, is considered the terminus of this road network, and the vital rail yards of this town are the beginning of the southern rail routes to the baronies of Kosk, Rivero and Crescent. The north-bound section of this railroad is still being constructed, and has reached the Barony of Slavia, though it consistently has difficulty in completing the other branches to Horn and Auverne. The short route to the Barony of Midshield is ancient and dates to the planet’s early efforts under the Star League, and remains intact.
Eastern “Midshield” Monorail
To finance this extensive road and rail network, tolls can prove to be expensive, though registered corporate vehicles under the Mangai are exempt. Private vehicle ownership in the nation remains rare, however, so this makes a Mangai license extremely valuable, and is generally handed-down along family lines, ensuring both a continued family occupation and place in society.
The nation has more going for it than simply being the nexus of international trade, however. Its mines in the eastern mountains produce much of the iron ore and coal used in the planet’s industries, and the gold and silver coinage used across the planet has most of its origins from the eastern mines in Tharn as well. Tharn’s agricultural efforts allow it to support itself, and exports much of its grain harvest, silt beans and exotic Jugfruits to the resource colonies. Seafood is another important resource, and dominates off-world trade in its processed form.
The capital of Lantern City is awash in foreign imports and exotic goods; cheap commodities like iron and grain pour into its markets from the resource colonies, and allow the nation to produce everything from textiles, consumer electronics (radios, calculators and primitive computers), munitions (assault rifles and light machine guns), industrial tools, engines and automobiles. Although some merchants from the Inner Sphere scoff at the low-tech level of these goods, such as the steam-autos that dominate the local economy, more primitive worlds in the Periphery nearby respect the cheap costs of these goods, and they still find a ready market.
Tharn Industrial District
Located on the coast near the central docks of Lantern City is the planet’s primary starport. With a long, central airstrip more than 5km-long, there are four hardened drop-pads, and a fairly extensive downport facility known as Rejhappur Starport, providing basic refueling and repair services. While DropShip traffic is infrequent (perhaps two-or-three ships per month), the value of the starport is also as the central focus of all inter-planetary trade; airplanes, helicopters, trains and even cargo ships dock nearby, and the starport is a busy place filled with many different nations and their vehicles, at all hours of the day.
The Iron Dingoes have co-opted an ancient security outpost just off the main airfield, known locally as “The (Im)Pound”, and use it to operate from when their fleet is in-system. This station contains four (4) Field Repair Mech Bays, four (4) Light Vehicle Bays, and space for a company of infantry, and is generally used as their primary storage point for shipments and personnel transfers out-system. They also have a Type-S “Seeker” Mining Shuttle named “Black Cat”, stowed here along with a Regular crew who perform a fairly easy duty.
In late-3027, a pair of Mark VII Landing Crafts were also attached to this facility, to better allow orbital transfer of heavy cargoes and goods across the planet. In mid-3030, the site was tagged to be a future depot operating under the Whippet Transport Lines brand, and was equipped with four (4) DC-3D “Condor” STOL Air Transport built to expand the company brand. The facility is slated for completion by mid-3031.
Tharn Rural Village
The people of Tharn speak a mix of Spanish, English, French and Esparanto, which have combined to give the planet a dialect that is somewhat confusing, but most English-speakers can muddle through local conversations. The Duchy of Tharn has the second-highest literacy rate on the planet, behind the dominant education-oriented culture of The Duchy of Horn, and literacy is increasingly important due to the needs of its growing industrial middle class.
The folk of Tharn are mostly simple farmers and fishermen. Many have worked the traditional farms or boats of their family for many generations, though those found in the northern sections tend to be newer settlers; farmers in the south-eastern plains raise grain and cattle, while those of the north raise rice and Silt Beans from fire-cleared farms in the Thornwoods. The rice fields around Muddywater and its extensive Jugfruit orchards are world-renowned for the size of their production. While those of the coastal portions are mostly fishermen, the rugged Fountain Mountains host mines and craftsfolk.
Typical Lady of Tharn; Note the House Sigil on her Left Arm
Typical of the world, women are often well-educated as mathematicians, scientists and accountants, while men are involved in the labour markets as common labourers, farmers and miners. A fair number of people from both sexes, however, are employed to support the influx of resources from the resource colonies, making their living in trade, commerce and logistics. The capital of Tharn is commonly known as “Lantern City” for its eternal electrical lights, and is a bustling, glamorous city filled with intrigue and scheming merchants. Banking and insurance-underwriting businesses are the emerging economy of the nation, and bills or drafts from the central banks of the city, as well as the various industrial organizations of the Mangai, are as good as gold bits anywhere on the planet.
The trappings of feudalism are common; most common workers are equated to peasants, and the leaders of industry in the nation are Lords in the very real aspect of the title; their landholds are extensive and tightly bound to the industry and finance of the nation. Nonetheless, the emerging middle class, mostly wealthy bankers and merchants, are beginning to rise in power and influence, even influencing the Lords of the Mangai.
While 20% of the population live on or near the towns of the nation, the rest of the population live in agricultural farms spread across the landscape. Most people are bound tightly to their marginal lands, and occupy about half the population. Land-owning commoners are about par in number with the growing craftsmen caste of the world, both living in close proximity to the towns and cities of the realm. The merchants live in the towns, but have little power (and usually no lands) outside of the urban communities.
At the top of the caste system are the nobility; the Knights who serve as the nation’s military leadership, the Lords who control the Mangai, the Barons who rule over the resource colonies, and the Dukes, whose growing power over industrial development, gives them control of one or more colonies themselves. Only the Lords of the Mangai often hold land and power in the towns, and landholds in the rural regions, giving them the widest positions of authority and influence.
The general population prizes honesty, hard work and pride. The towns of Tharn are clean and generally safe places; the fields are well-kept and productive. Insults usually impugn a person’s honesty, the appearance of their home, or the quality of their work. The double standard of allowing graft and treachery as long as one accomplishes it with a degree of style and with a noble end in mind, seems out of place.
Tharn’s Government Archives
The rise of the towns as centers of commerce and off-world pressures from merchants seeking cheap goods, has shaped the ruling Mangai to establish its unwritten laws and constitution. A collection of solemn agreements, generally regarding trade, finance and resources, keep the Mangai from abusing its position, but the growing bureaucracy and the frequent assemblies of the nobility are what is forging the region into an independent entity. Notions of democracy, equal protection under the law and other similar concepts are far from being enshrined in stone, however.
Until recently, the Mangai met and ruled from an austere palace nestled in the center of Tharn, the capital city. Five years ago, the seat of power suddenly changed to an abandoned monastery located near Midshield, now the “Government Archives”, and has become known as the place where the records of the early years of the world are kept in close proximity, to allow the Mangai to better rule over an increasingly complex system of laws and traditions. Many have begun to see it as a religious center for the Mangai.
Off-worlders will find dealing with the bureaucracy and officials of the Mangai difficult, unless they have either high status or contacts high in the Mangai. Bribery of Mangai officials can prove expensive; even ruinous to the common man of the realm. Officials in the towns are often much easier to deal with (and cheaper); they are often greedier and far more willing to take a chance for interesting opportunities to establish their own monopoly, and status as a Lord. Unfortunately, these officials rarely have any sort of influence beyond the walls of their own community, and at best, can provide a letter of introduction to a friend in another community.
Tharn is a civilized nation; it has skilled diplomats, many spies, and a level-headed view of the world’s political status. However, it has its own share of grudges and wars, like any other world. Ancient feuds among the ruling Lords date back to the Mine Wars from about a century ago, and many of the present resource colonies appeal to the Mangai for justice or to soothe a forgotten claim to a lost resource or rediscovered title to some land or even whole populations of border villages.
Tharn Regional Administrative Offices
An important aspect of the local government, is the presence of the world governing bodies, the Administrative and Executive branches of the Mangai, that oversees much of the resource transfers and trade of the world. Since early-3026, changes in both have resulted in the transfer of many powers of the bureaucracy back to the Executive branch, which has weakened their power and authority, and made the nobility once more the true Mangai and ruling body of the planet. This bureaucracy employs more than 10,000 personnel, and has nearly as many workers as the local regional government.
The regional government of the Duchy of Tharn however, is ruled directly by Colonel Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” as the “Duke of Fang” or the ’Iron Duke", with the region now an effective landhold of the Iron Dingoes. While the old bureaucracy of the region, some 10,000 state employees who oversee regional divisions within the nation-state; nine individual districts, with the directly-governed national capital itself, and three nominal territories along the borders of the state. These latter three are low population regions, but contain important mining resources of both common and precious metals. The provincial boundaries of Tharn haven’t changed in more than a hundred years.
In addition to this bureaucracy scattered across the provinces, is a central authority that oversees the nation-state, and operates from a series of offices in the core of the central city of the capital. These officials ensure taxation collection, and oversee various national departments such as education, regional defense, resource management and agriculture. These employees differ from the direct regional authorities, in that they are officially appointed by the Iron Dingoes, who then empower each department with a budget and the mandate to hire their own personnel to fulfill their individual mandates. The result is a leadership that is loyal to the Dingoes, and still empowered enough to manage the resources they have control over with some degree of freedom.
The Iron Dingoes are, however, a military leadership culture, and while efficient, the old regime of graft and bribery is not acceptable to the current leadership, forcing the remaining officials to rethink their activities, on threat of dismissal and imprisonment. While the leadership of the Iron Dingoes believes in a light hand, they react swiftly and absolutely, against unfavorable activities in their name. The bureaucracy is learning that the anger of a Dingo is not to be trifled with.
The real difficulty facing the government, however, is its many traditions that must rapidly catch-up to Iron Dingoes standards, nomenclature and technology. The first interaction with the bureaucracy, was to distribute H-3 Horizon “Blue Lotus” Compads to divisional heads, in preparation for the change-over; the change from a primarily paper-based bureaucracy to electronic-based, is going to require time and education. The government also imports the EC-A Echelon Computer Station widely for its various departments and for use in medical centers and schools.
Loyalty is another matter of difficulty to the new government. Iron Dingoes usually replace the leaders of departments and divisions with their own personnel, when taking over a landhold or military formation; the size of the population of Tharn, however, precludes the ability of the Dingoes to do this, meaning that, for the time being, most people in the regional government will continue to do their jobs, but that, with time, changes will be inevitable. When and how quickly these changes occur demands patience by all parties presently in place.
Tharn Iron Legions
Within Tharn are several light infantry and cavalry units of Regimental size, that serve as both peacekeepers and defenders of the local industries and lands they are garrisoned near. Known as the * Tharn Iron Legions, or simply the “Iron Legions”, they represent the core of the local military resources devoted to the nation. Although grouped together as regiments for logistics and administration, they generally only operate at the company level, and rarely conduct larger formation drills, though this has begun to change over the last few years.
Some of these companies were once little more than paper wolves, as they were originally reserve formations that only saw deployment a couple times each year, and kept only a permanent skeleton force of a platoon available at each important community; all formations were equipped with basic Iron Legion “Colonial” Infantry Field Kits, even the reserve formations. These units have since been deployed as full-time troopers, and the “reserve formation” concept has ceased to exist.
1st Rifle Regiment (Infantry) “Star Rifles”
2nd Rifle Regiment (Infantry) “Gray Guards”
3rd Rifle Regiment (Cavalry) “Mustang Rifles”
4th Rifle Regiment (Infantry) “Seven Shooters”
5th Rifle Regiment (Infantry) “The Invincibles”
7th Rifle Regiment (Infantry) “Consolidated Rifles”
8th Rifle Regiment (Infantry) “Young’s Rifles”
9th Rifle Regiment (Cavalry) “Swamp Angels”
The 6th Regiment (Rifle Infantry) was disbanded in 3005, following a corruption scandal, which many still ascribe the title “The Northgate Coup” in reference to the incident. The majority of the officer’s corps was arrested and courts-marshaled, and its logistics and regular soldiers were placed under other commands. Its territory was also broken under other nearby commands to patrol and protect.
These ground armed forces are deployed in three echelons – a primary operational echelon of four (4) infantry regiments (the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th) close to the capital and commanded by General Gregor von Daemon. This force is supported by a secondary echelon of two (2) cavalry regiments (the 3rd and 9th) commanded by General Radi Jaeger, and a strategic reserve echelon of two (2) infantry regiments (the 5th and 8th) commanded by General Faldio Zobeck, located out on the frontier. These forces are garrisoned in their respective company-sized units along lines of supply and communication spreading out from the capital in a web-work of roads and communities, with fewer the further into the frontier one travels.
The center of the region’s military activities are its headquarters located in the outskirts of the capital along the Saltdragon River, in the fortified military town known as * Military Headquarters Randgeriz, an important military community for over a century. Education of the nation’s officer corps is with the * Lanseal Royal Military Academy, in a fairly isolated region to the north, located flush against the Thornwoods. Lanseal Academy is considered the premier education facility on the planet.
Iron Dingoes Guards
Formerly the “Tharn Republican Guards”, the * Iron Dingoes Guards “The Lantern Corps” were rebuilt from that larger organization, and constitute two reinforced mechanized infantry battalions, whose primary purpose is to serve the city of Tharn, or “Lantern City” as both a police and a defensive military force. Mostly recruited from the local population, they are largely led by proven officers from the core military formations of * “The Iron Dingoes”.
The unit is armed similar to the Tharn Iron Legions, only with better combat armor and possessing a much closer tie to the core military forces of the Iron Dingoes themselves, rather than to the nation in which they are stationed. Each battalion is equipped with imported Amalek-Class Wheeled APCs, for three companies, and an additional force of one infantry company of Jackrabbit Military Motorcycles.
The original unit was of questionable loyalty to the new government and was quickly dissolved by mid-3026, and then rebuilt with an eye more towards loyalty and equal representation between the sexes than the old unit, and today represents possibly the most loyal soldiers under Iron Dingoes control, to be recruited from System – Gollere.
In addition, the unit is promised assistance by off-world infantry and armor forces from the Iron Dingoes, to give them some backbone against off-world raiders, and promote an understanding between the regular mercenary forces of the Iron Dingoes, and its local regional militia. Together, the unit serves a largely ceremonial position as the guards of the regional and planetary government buildings, and protects the person of both the Governor and the Duke, while they go about their duties.