Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
Starlords - "The Brethren of the Void"
The “Starlords”, sometimes called “Swordies”, represent an unknown organization of pirates, loosely held together through the common goals of survival, need for supplies and a safe hierarchy that can ensure their mutual profit. Active throughout the Rimward Territories of the Inner Sphere, and have a central authority, (known as the Warlord and his government) that regulates their inter-actions and keeps them from open war with each other, by designating set territories of activity. Of diverse origins, there seems to be no common theme to their operations beyond common terms of parlance and the fact they generally don’t seem to kill each other on sight.
The use of a skull as the symbol among troopers and techs loyal to The Brethren of the Void is common. Warships and battle vehicles tend to display personal flags and symbols, like all pirates, but true members of the Brotherhood also prominently display a skull as their mark., often bearing a dagger driven to the hilt through its top. Starlords employ an ornate sword symbol somewhere on their personal ships, Mechs and troopers, and this denotes elite forces with a high level of loyalty to The Brotherhood.
The Brethren Court comprises the leadership of the Brotherhood of the Void, also referred to as the Starlords. Each oversees piracy of a specific region (known as “Seas” in Brethren parlance) of the Inner Sphere near the Periphery. From time to time, a formal Court is called, where each pirate lord meets together at an unknown location to choose a new leader or determine an important activity or other news. These meetings are rumored to be fraught with discord, fights, and duels.
Each of the Starlords carries a “Piece of Eight” insignia. The “pieces” are unknown, though each pirate lord knows the object and can identify fakes. Each “Piece of Eight” must be presented to verify a Starlord’s identity, and it is believed handed down to that pirate’s successor when he steps down, or is slain.
There are said to be eight (8) pirate lords, calling themselves Starlords. Exact membership remains unknown, though one can usually tell the truth of it by their unusual technology ( Starlords use only the best LosTech), and the fact that they brazenly call themselves Starlords.
Lower membership in the Brotherhood is ranked as follows:
The Marshals : The pilots and officers of the Starlords, the Marshals are the protectors of their organization, their police, their military, their judges and jury. They are the only ones allowed to carry weapons and wield BattleMEchs, AeroFighters and DropShips. They are the elite, the nobles, the leaders. There is a great deal of almost reverent worship of Mechs and AeroFighters as the “Metal Gods”.
The Kindred : Perhaps best seen as honored prisoners, Kindred are the techs, the servants, the civilian leaders and scientists of The Brotherhood. These people are integral to society and have many freedoms to act as they will, own land and property, and pursue private goals. Their skills and knowledge have ensured they have a place in society. As a symbol of their status, they are allowed to bear a combat knife or vibro-blade openly, and often brazenly do so at all opportune times. Most do not pursue the growing trend of “Metal God” worship, having a pragmatic approach to technology, since they tend to understand science better than anyone else.
The Support : The lowest level of “citizen” status among the Brotherhood, The Support are also the most numerous of society, accounting for nearly 75% of its citizens. Most work hard, hoping for the opportunity to promotion as a Kindred, often given to those who prove valuable skills and ability are given the chance. Most Support spend their entire lives working to pay for their possessions, often tools and other valuable items for employment and chosen trade. Although generally fairly pacifistic, some do go on to become soldiers in the Brotherhood, though that remains difficult and rare. Most seem to follow the “Metal Gods” philosophy, and are fairly loyal to their existing society.
The Labourers : Known usually as LCs (Or “Elsies” ), the Long Contractors are effectively slaves. Spoken of as “Wards of the State”, they are given work, clothing, food and housing which they cannot provide for themselves. The fact that they were usually captured during a raid by Starlords, and forced to work under difficult conditions is not important in Brotherhood society. They own nothing, but have the potential to earn a position as Support; if they prove themselves capable and trustworthy. Often this means selling-out or eliminating rivals and losing your soul in the process of promotion. There are actually few LCs, since most simply either get promoted, or they are worked to death.
“Nemesis Blazon” of the Haven Expeditionary Forces
Starlord society can be easily viewed as militaristic; a label it deserves wholly. Outsiders look upon the Starlords as openly aggressive and draconic,with a ready desire to engage in military action, but this stems from generations of aggression and dominance by pirates and their ilk.
Combat, among the Starlords is viewed as something of an honored duel. While conflict is often avoided by a swift knife in the dark before a fight, when challenge is made, challenge is accepted. Closely tied to this is the concept of “Surrender must be met with honor”. Generated by generations of scarce resources and a need to continue the conflict,anything that might spare the violence, must be accepted, to allow the fight to go forward another day.
The standard field uniform of the soldier, is a utilitarian jumpsuit of standard drab grey. Sewn with protective armor plates over key areas, the uniform provides modest protection to its wearer. The uniform is exclusively worn by “Marshals”, and anyone else caught wearing one is declared to be “Impersonating an officer”, with an immediate result of death for the wearer. Some wear Armoured Longshirts made of ceramic chain links, often employed becaus eof its ability to turn away most combat knives. Full combat armor tends to be heavy in nature.
Each planet maintains its own militia, based largely upon the expenditures of private companies, mostly whatever the local Marshal is able to work on.
Originating during the ancient Age of War era, The Starlords arose to strength during the period in which the Inner Sphere was turned against themselves. Though not in its present state, a form of these pirates has existed since mankind reached the stars.
The Age of War (2398-2570), was a period of developing technology and great masses of migration into the Periphery, leading to a development of tactics and a very disorganized, but profitable period of development. The War of Reunification led to a great, sudden influx of military technology among pirate forces, and before the creation of the Star League, was a time of great piracy and innovation.
The time of The Star League (2750-2781) was a time of darkness in their operations. High technology using enemies and active war fleets the like of which have never been seen cut deeply into operations by pirates. The Brethren, however, simply allowed this time period to weed-out the weaker pirates, and actually led to development of an internal barter economy within their organization.
The Succession Wars (2781-Present), has been the heyday of life in the Periphery for the Brotherhood. Starting with the infamous pirate lord Ichobod Morgan, who codified and organized the present system used by the Brotherhood, a series of powerful leaders have led the Brethren to their present strength. The leader of the Brotherhood continues to rule with strength, violence and fear.
Rise of the Starlords
According to early histories, the first great “Pirate Lord”, or Warlord of Haven was Ichobod Morgan, “the Invincible”. In those days, star travel was dangerous, with roving war fleets common along the borders, and the slow descent of the general technology of the Inner Sphere was obvious. “Rething”, the pressing of skilled men into involuntary servitude aboard a ship, was common. Food was poor, and maintenance spotty, at best.
In this environment, it was easy for Ichobod to rise to power, taking former soldiers and technicians and offering them a chance at plunder in return for loyalty. He began his career of piracy in 2825, raiding a merchant ship on the edge of the Periphery, that netted him a hold of radioactives and gemstones. Within a year, he had a fleet of nearly a dozen ships and each began raiding in the name of Ichobod.
Ichobod and his growing fleet moved deeper inwards, directly into the marrow of the Inner Sphere, until he raided the world of System – New Syrtis in 2836. The sudden resurgence of the Second Succession War stymied efforts to halt his marauders, and Ichobod always retreated to the relative safety of Haven. He slowly built a network of spies and informants, and his presence was a simple fixture in the Periphery edge of the Inner Sphere. His knowledge of star charts, navigation and pirate points became unrivaled in his time, and whenever a ship went missing, Ichobod was blamed.
Despite the legends, however, he was also a noted explorer, pushing into the Periphery, bringing trade goods to lost worlds for rare technology and other resources, and his flag became something of a hero among the people of the fringes. House Davion mounted an expeditionary fleet from its holding in System – Star Forge in 2842, but the fleet was completely annihilated because of faulty star charts planted by his own people.
Ichobod died in 2863 at the helm of his ancient Dart-Class Destroyer, the “Star Scorpion”, in battle with a Federated Suns Warship. While maneuvering through an asteroid belt in the Cohagen system, a sudden solar storm fried the navigational sensors, and forced a hard collision. He spent several days at the helm, managing to elude his pursuers before charging his ship and jumping out-system. With his ship and crew safe, he slumped to the deck dead of a burst heart.
The Pirate Wars
By this time, the pirate fleet numbered nearly two dozen active ships, and without his strong leadership, the rough coalition known then as the “Starlords” came apart. Half a dozen separate pirates claimed the leadership, and with their own followings turned from raiders into an internal war.
The great pirates of the past arose during this time period. Black Anvil, a pirate lord from the As Samik system, who dipped his captives in molten plastic before tossing them out an airlock; Lord Chasm, a Davion nobleman turned pirate who forced his captives to drink until they died of alcohol poisoning; Urdogen, “the Red” also rose to power in this period, known to force his captives to eat themselves to death.
Urdogen, “..a red-haired hot-blooded bear of a man…”, eventually came to dominate the pirates of Haven in 2866. While he did not have control over all flags in the Cluster, he held enough support that none dared challenge him. He seized the capital of Tanstaafl City for himself, and allowed the others to live wherever they may.
Once the internal wars were over, Urdogen began a series of brutal raids and depredations against everyone, even the people of the Cluster. The start of the Third Succession War in the same year allowed his pirates to raid and molest the Inner Sphere for more than a decade. They would systematically loot anything and everything valuable from the Periphery worlds and ships they raided, and eventually his activities could no longer be ignored.
A great fleet of mercenaries and House ships were gathered, numbering around twenty (20) combat Dropships, which was quite a feat at the time. In 2871, this fleet surrounded Haven and systematically eradicated and destroyed every pirate ship trying to get back to Haven from raids. System – Star Forge was instrumental in these efforts. Eventually, Urdogen, humiliated by the losses, gathered nine of his most loyal ships and met the main force of House Davion in System – Dumassas, which feigned weakness and made for their JumpShips in a retreat at the height of the battle. Urdogen drove after them at all speed.
The remaining forces of House Davion all jumped in-system, and netted Urdogen with a force of sixteen surviving DropShips, and while some pirates managed to escape, most, including Urdogen aboard his Overlord-Class DropShip, the “Raging Tears”, were destroyed. The pirate menace was finally broken in the Hyades Rim.
For nearly one-hundred years Haven remained an independent planet. Although handfuls of pirates still called the port home, as a force, they were never as strong again. Few attempted to draw attention to themselves, and the backwater nature of the Cluster remained.
Methlas and his Successors
In 2948, a merchant named Methlas “the Bold” quietly gathered resources and a following of various questionable people, expanding his efforts into the Hyades Rim. He came to work closely with various infochants in the region, and eventually gained access to the navigational charts from the fallen “Raging Tears”. His various swindles and dodges, with double manifests and false deliveries brought him to conclude he needed an escape plan.
Using these funds and supplies, he outfitted his own private mercenary troop, and amassed enough force to move into the Cluster and set up shop as its defacto leader. Within a year, he had established himself as a cool, calculating leader, and using the ancient codes of the Starlords as a basis, established the Starlords creed as a means to developing a government. By 2954, Haven was on the road to industrialization and development beyond anything anyone had thought of in a century.
In 2956, Methlas was murdered by his right-hand man, Theodore “the Quick”. Methlas had built a strong fleet of five combat DropShips, with plans to increase his fleet, but Theodore was not as patient. Before his former leader’s corpse was cold, he used all the ships available to him to launch a series of raids into Taurian and Davion space, simultaneously using their mutual distrust to operate under false flags of the opposing sides. They quickly seized every ship and goods they could and returned in victory to Haven.
Although Theodore managed to claim a victory from the raids, he did not long enjoy its benefits. His mistress, Thilana “the Cold”, who had also been Methlas own mistress before his death, took the victorious and drunk Theodore to bed, poured him poisoned wine and he died.
Thilana’s plans extended beyond petty revenge. Assuming leadership of the band, she resumed Methlas’ plan of long-term development and careful raiding. She also re-established a series of contacts, and showed how well her lover had taught her, by instituting a series of economic reforms and supporting farming and industrial efforts among the lower castes. Careful culling of a shipment of mining equipment here, and raiding of a JumpShip for industrial metals there, eventually led to the development of quite a potential for improvement for the burgeoning colony.
Thilana was the first pirate lord not to pilot a vessel herself, although she was a capable Mech pilot. Most of her time was spent cultivating her spy network, and building her ground forces with an eye towards long-term developemnt of an actual Haven army. She often travelled outside the Cluster to make contact with potential clients and contacts for her booty, and it was one such trip that ended her career.
A prominent female ship captain, Laershala of the Emerald Star" had gathered support from younger pirates who were her lovers and who sought greater opportunity to raid and acquire wealth. Laershala herself was a talented leader, and many viewed Thilana’s lack of Aerospace skills as proof she wasn’t worthy of their fealty. One night, alone in her quarters and away from her personal guards, Laershala strangled Thilana and claimed leadership of the pirates of Haven.
Laershala’s reign was not, however, the same as her predecessors. Pirates who had supported Thilana cried that Laershala had killed her unjustly, and refused to follow her rule. Others, seeing the potential disintegration of pirate leadership as an opportunity to gain power and wealth, struck out on their own, ignoring her commands. By 2976, Laershala died in battle with a Taurian force of AeroFighters in the Organo system, and the Starlords had divided into a dozen factions, each vying for control of Haven.
Haven and the Warlord
It was inevitable that the Warlord arise eventually. In 2979, a young pirate gained control of his own JumpShip and DropShip, and began to make a name for himself. Known as Quinn Harloch “the Grim”, he was among the “New Age” of pirates, capable in using ground tactics as well as understanding AeroSpace operations.
He came to power amidst a mix of factions and powers in the neutral colony of Tanstaafl. Some twenty (20) separate DropShips claimed harbor in Haven, and while two or three could declare themselves openly as Starlords, none had the support of the other members of the Brethren Council. They were brutal, but they knew their history.
Some speculate that Quinn was more than he appears; the bastard son of either Thilana or even Laershala, but whatever his origins, he proved to be a capable leader, with a view to the long-term. His words brought many independent pirates into his fold, such that he was able to stage a sudden and unexpected coup and seized not Tanstaafl as most expected, but rather the JumpShips of the various pirate lords. Securing their loyalty, he then turned his attention to the other planets of the Cluster, and after gaining their fealty, returned to the capital system of Aurore itself.
Almost within a week of his return, several lesser pirate lords knelt in fealty to him, and within the month, Tanstaafl City itself was his, along with the loyalty of all the Brethren Court. He immediately instituted a series of reforms, installing the ancient codes and making careful plans to raid the Inner Sphere, ensuring each pirate lord of the Court was given their dues and territory. By the year’s end in 2982, Haven was wholly his.
Attention was paid to all the castes of Haven, and representatives of the planet’s paid homage to The Warlord in the capital. He spent 2984 securing The District of Aurore, and reactivated the antiquated industrial complexes there, placing a loyal follower in command of the district, who promptly raised a private army of thugs, but his successors still pay homage to The Warlord.
By 2995, The Warlord had subdued through poison, murder and outright duels, all dissent to his reign. He began to get the support of a new generation of pirates who saw themselves, increasingly, as members of an elite caste of warriors with a manifest destiny to bring the might of Starlords – “The Brethren of the Void” to new heights. He had also managed to revitalize the local economy, and for all intents and purposes, Haven was a nascent minor Periphery state, though very few in the Inner Sphere even knew of its existence. He began more active raiding, employing the contacts he was cultivating with the outside world, targeting a list of abandoned industrial facilities as well as the colonies nearby, mostly, in truth , as a cover for his looting of lost industrial designs and scarce tools and dies for industrial development.
With the turn of the millenia, while the Inner Sphere struggled to keep their wars of attrition active, Haven was growing in purpose and Aurore itself was a gem in the Cluster. The new century brought a reform to the government, and the bureaucracy was purged of its last members who felt ties to “the old pirate ways”. The peace within the Cluster continued for nearly a decade, until 3009, with the arrival of ComStar.
Initially, he thought about simply seizing their vessels and assets and killing them. But they promised him something he needed desperately; technical advisers and hard currency. He did seize their ships, but took them back to System – Dumassas, where he invited a Sub-Precentor to visit him and his “little colony”. Within a year, technicians from the Inner SPhere swarmed into Haven, under the aegis of The Warlord’s own ships and troops, and set about revitalizing the ancient HPGs. By 3012, both were active, and a pair of new “mobile” facilities were being installed on the other two worlds, such that by 3013 the entire Cluster had almost instant contact between its member worlds. System – Dumassas was also rebuilt, and Comstar started planning for long-term exploitation of Haven and its resources.
In the midst of this work, in 3011, Lord-Marshal “White Death” arrived in the Brethren Court, wielding a “Piece-of-Eight”, and demanding accknoledgement of his status as a Starlord. While The Warlord was wary, gifts of technical LosTech and the honor of fealty was given, and after careful consideration, he was granted a landhold in The District of New Haven, if he could rebuild it. He did. Colonel White has continued to develop his own little realm, carefully paying tithes to The Warlord for the ability to rule however he might choose, and remains, despite many fears to the contrary, a loyal subject of Haven.
Since the last Brethern Court in 3019, there has been little change in teh status quo of the Cluster. Lord-Marshal Whie has remained close to home, spending a few months in his estate, but disappearing for a year or two on extended trips and raids throughout his territory. He has increasingly sent his children on these trips, however, and so is rarely separated from his estates in New Haven for long. His inclusion of The Gold Legions began during this era, and has steadily increased over the last few years, making him a feared force among the other Starlords.
2825 – Foundation of Haven as pirate stronghold.
2836 – Ichobod raids New Syrtis
2842 – Davion loses Expeditionary Fleet
2863 – Death of Ichobod
2866 – Rise of Urdogen
2871 – Destruction of Urdogen’s Band
2948 – Rise of the Starlords and Methlas the Bold.
2956 – Deaths of Methlas and Theodore
2967 – Death of Thilana
2976 – Death of Laershala
2982 – Rise of the Warlord
3019 – The start of the Gold Legions
3025 – Present Day