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, though the nation and its government are presently in question as the management of the nation changes. It was formally declared the Duchy of Tharn, on March 5th, 3026.
Population : 17,500,000
Governor : Colonel Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull”, Duke of Tharn
Economy : Agricultural.
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.
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 Tharn.
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. Unlike most of the planet, off-world currency has some value here, 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 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 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 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 market.
Tharn Market District
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 region 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 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 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, 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 Central Tharn Authority however, is ruled directly by Colonel Kanto Jokukad “Pitbull” as the “Duke of Fang”, 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, the directly-governed national capital itself, and three nominal territories along the borders of the state, with low populations but containing important resources. Provincial boundaries 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.
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.
Typical Gollere Militia Officer
Tharn Regional Militias
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. Although grouped together as regiments for logistics and administration, they generally only operate at the company level, and rarely conduct larger formation drills. Some of these companies are little more than paper wolves, as they are reserve formations that only see deployment a couple times each year, and keep only a permanent skeleton force of a platoon available at each community; all formations are equipped with basic Gollere Militia Field Kits, even the reserve formations.
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.
The majority of the region’s armed ground 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 Baldren Glassenari, 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 town known as Military Headquarters Randgeriz, an important military town for over a century. Education of the nation’s officer corps is the Lanseal Royal Military Academy, in a fairly isolated region to the north, located against the Thornwoods. Lanseal Academy is considered the premier education facility on the planet.
Tharn Republican Guard
In recent years, the Mangai bureaucracy assembled a private army, known as the Tharn Republican Guard. Recruited primarily from the local police force of the capital city Tharn, these troops are still important to the city defense, and primarily operate in protection of the capital city and its numerous important Mangai industries. While the units were kept intact, their loyalty is questionable, however, and their officers are not trusted by Iron Dingoes Command Council.
Presently amounting to some three battalions of light infantry, and a battalion of cavalry on Jackrabbit Military Motorcycles, they are equipped with the Gollere Militia Field Kit which includes various locally produced small arms such as the Tulip M2981 and Nighthawk M3009, but also imported Amalek-Class Wheeled APCs, and are known to deploy light tanks from an unknown source. They are also equipped with the Warmachine M3025 as an urban defense force. The Tharn Republican Guard’s small fleet of helicopters and conventional fighters were torn apart during the Iron Dingoes invasion of the starport in early-3026, and no longer exists.
This large military force has attracted a lot of attention, but is well-funded and deploys on patrols and in garrisons near important industrial areas on the outskirts of Tharn. They also attend to the defense of the Mangai when they are in session. They are still, however, recruiting, and continue to build themselves into a strong military force. This force differs greatly from the “provincial” noble battalions, through an increasing use of automatic weapons and heavy armor, something the nobles and “rural folk” are increasingly looking down upon as the growing “townie” militarism.
In addition to these forces, are numerous town militias, often no larger than a company of light rifle infantry militia, though some of the oldest often maintain their own armored personnel carriers, and can sport extensive fortifications of their town’s center. Some even hire mercenaries from time to time, to ensure their control over a regional resource site, or potential site of recovered technology.
There is a growing faction among the Lords of the Mangai to build the Guard ever larger, and even deploy BattleMechs, a sign that many middle-class merchants hint is being used as a means to ensure their monopoly over their own resources. Most merchants, however, demand a decrease in the costs of these military taxation, and seek to put their money instead into improved infrastructure and improvement in manufacturing technologies.