Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
System - Dunkelheim
Small Periphery Colony
Dunkelheim – Periphery Colony World
Political Ruler : Governor Schmidt
Star Type : M2iv (Desert) – (74 Hours)
Position in System : 1
Time to Jump Point : 2.83 days
Number of Satellites : 0
Surface Gravity : 0.96
Atmo Pressure : Standard (Breathable)
Avr Mean Temp : +18 (Cold-Temperate)
Surface Water : 10%
Recharge Station : Nadir
HPG Class Type : C, Demi-Precentor Maxwell Klanis
Highest Native Life : 95%, Insect
Socio-Industrial Level : X
Population : (3025) 1.493 Million
Dunkelheim – Capellan Colony World
Not every colony world has necessarily developed a society which mirrors that left behind on Earth. Dunkelheim is a terrific example of deviated social progress. Originally established as a penal colony for “victimless” criminals, Dunkelheim is a harsh planet with little free-standing water. Conditions have not permitted the colony to develop at any great rate, and it is considered a fairly minor world in comparison to others in the Periphery.
System Data : Centered by a dim, red M2 star in the outer reaches of the Capellan Marches, its low mass and diminished radiation make it an unlikely parent of a habitable world, though random elements have conspired to beat the odds. Three tiny worlds circle the star – the first within the narrow life zone and the other two well beyond it. The outer two bodies are both rocky desert worlds without exploitable resources. Only the innermost, Dunkelheim, was fortunate enough to have both some substantial water and sufficient radiation from its star.
Planetary Data : Circling its star in the first orbit is Dunkelheim, a world colonized in 2624. Dunkelheim is a dry , barren world about half the size of Earth in diameter, with a gravity of about 0.6 Gs. Dunkelheim’s greater density is an indication of its mineral wealth; Dunkelheim exports many ores, and most of its economy revolves around mining. But it is forced to import agricultural products since the planet is basicallly incapable of supporting widespread agriculture due to a honeycombing of most of its surface.
Dunkelheim has little free-standing water. Typically described as a desert world, there are areas where water is stored, but is nearly impossible to get at and use for the purposes of the colonists. Large areas of the planet’s surface are characterized by its dominant life form, a tiny creature known locally as the Kamelinsekt, or camel fly.
Kamelinsekts live in enormous colonies consisting of billions of individuals. Their social groups can occupy an area up to a mile in diameter, where they consume the sandy silicate soil and excrete a form of cement with which they fabricate honeycombed habitats up to 10m deep. Here they breed new generations, until a swarm moves on to establish new colonies. Abandoned habitats tend to collect water, and it is very difficult to get it out of the billions of tiny fissures encased in extremely hard resin.
Unfortunately, Kamelinsekts are the most successful survivor species after a disastrous meteor impact within the last thousand years. Most of their predators have been wiped-out, so their population has increased tremendously. They have grown in number, limiting the local vegetation’s ability to support them, and their occupied or abandoned habitats dot the landscape, locking more and more of the planet’s water. Local animals have no means of retrieving it, and since evaporation out of the habitats is slow, the water is increasingly being taken from the system, forcing a wide-scale problem until a means of reversing the process can be discovered. Currently, about one-half the planet’s water reserves are locked into Kamelinsekt habitats. Approaching one can be dangerous – though the creatures are relatively inoffensive, they can easily overwhelm and suffocate people, or clog vehicle components or engines by their sheer weight of numbers.
Colonial History : While the world itself is dismal, it boasts a sizable population, the result of an experiment in House Liao social planning. During the Diaspora, the Confederation had a serious problem with so-called “victimless” criminals; prostitutes, drug dealers or users, vagrants, pornographers, and so on. The costly burden of keeping these criminals away from society was growing to excess; meanwhile, the Diaspora was encouraging various fringe elements of society to establish colonies in the Rim. Living conditions on Dunkelheim, went further to discourage colonization.
The Capellans killed both its budget problems and growing population pressures, by offering the option of “live behind bars for a couple dozen years, or opening a colonial world for settlement”. This offer was extended to “qualified candidates”, bringing sufficient engineers, doctors, lawyers, and business professionals, to start a colonial effort in earnest.
As the program progressed, colonial efforts were expanded, leading to more criminals and less professionals “qualifying” for colonization. Violent criminals were never under consideration, even though many descendents of the original colonists may try to spin their ancestors in a facetious manner.
In fact, every year the colonists commemorate the founding of Dunkelheim by holding “Diewoche” or the “Week of Thieves”. During the festivities, revelers “steal” small items from restaurants and shops; careful shopkeepers leave out special items for just this occasion, just to limit the more expensive thefts. Parties are held, and invited guests must crawl through windows or descend through skylights to gain entrance.
Naturally, the present government of Dunkelheim is not composed of lawbreakers, and except for Diewoche, the judicial order on Dunkelheim proceeds much apace that of other colony worlds. The only noticeable difference is in the legal structure of the world has a strong libertarian slant. Most of the “crimes” for which original colonists were charged are not illegal on Dunkelheim. The government knows better than to poke their nose into the daily lives of its citizens.
Another difference between the laws of Dunkelheim and those of most other places, is a total absence of professional license laws. Anyone who wants to practice medicine on Dunkelheim may, without restriction. Anyone who wants to practice law, may do so without restriction. The same goes for plumbers, electricians, cab drivers, accountants, and any other “professional” vocation.
Surprisingly enough to skeptics from the IS, this lack of regulation has not reduced the quality of services offered on Dunkelheim. To be sure, there are occasional quacks and snake-oil salesmen, and shysters in the legal profession, but the market tends to weed these out soon enough. People depend on the recommendations of their friends and professional organizations that police themselves, to make their decisions on whom they will trust to patronize, rather than some form of standards assigned by the government.
A handful of brilliant colonists have distinguished themselves under this system. Helmut Rothgard, a self-taught dentist, cannot legally practice his craft off-world, but he has been awarded various medals of honor for his research and reconstructive duties.
Dunkelheim’s recent population growth has been spurred by the discovery of several precious minerals there. While yet to produce either tantalum or germanium, large deposits of gold were discovered in 2749. A new batch of “49ers” hurried to the world to participate in this gold rush, and Dunkelheim responded by setting up strict immigration laws. The main thrust of these laws was to prohibit entry into Dunkelheim by House Capellan and House Davion nationals. Both governments protested, and tensions were raw enough to expel their ambassadors from the planet in 2758. As the Reunification Wars ramped-up, this matter became less important. By the 2790s, the laws were abandoned, but numerous Capellan colonists were absorbed over the following century fleeing the Succession Wars.
As a Periphery colony world, Dunkelheim exports a number of valuable minerals, including zinc, platinum and uranium. Recent finds of magnesium and chromium have been discovered in the planet’s southern hemisphere, and mining crews are slowly moving operations to exploit these rare minerals.
In 2886, a political scandal rocked Goldberg, the planetary capital. It was discovered, that many of the government pens were transmitting information, both sound and position, to unknown spies. In addition to the use of the pens as tracking devices, close study of their movements led even some information regarding documents and classified notes being leaked. It was later revealed that even some government offices had been bugged, and political as well as government policies regarding trade were being copied, for some nefarious end. Since that time “writing with a Dunkelheim pen” has become colloquial for “telling a secret to an untrustworthy source”.
Another interesting episode in its history, was the Mounted Exploration Brigade. Cost analysis in the early years of the colony, led a decision that horses, not vehicles were more cost efficient for initial exploration efforts, and so sixty (60) fine Arabian horses were exported to the colony world on the ship the “Rose of Hades”. Ten colts and eight fillies were born in transit, and the herd was well on its way.
For years the descendents of these Arabian horses were well acknowledged as great specimens of their line, and many went on to win accolades in competitions in some of the nearby Periphery and Outback worlds. Dunkelheim remains a valuable breeding ground for the animals; careful quarantine of the herds has kept their bloodlines pure and disease remains a rare thing.
While technology remains an important means of improving life, conditions on Dunkelheim have never been on par with most early Hegemony colonial worlds. The government of Dunkelheim has exercised the now-proverbial “Dunkelheim Slyness” for many years. The planetary cabinet, meeting in secret session, formed its own plans for rebellion during the events leading from the secession of New Vandenberg from the Star League. Several ministers were not convinced at first, but others demonstrated the intolerable conditions of the oppressive Star League, who dumped its prisoners on the planet, and gave barely sufficient technology to keep the growing population alive, let alone prosper.
Knowing that the Minister of Transportation, Klaus Blinger, was secretly in the pockets of the Star League, different ministers organized their efforts in private, and other ministers, aware of the plot raised objections to the Star League’s taxation. Thus, when Binger tattled to his masters in the Star League, he explained some of the ministers would work to stop the rebellion if certain conditions were met. As matters were heating-up in the Concordat, the League “suddenly” announced it was planning a concerted aid program for the planet as they had been “loyal during a difficult time”. In the chaos of the conflicts in the Periphery, Dunkelheim was one of the few border worlds to receive these benefits from Earth.
Better technology and improved equipment was a part of this aid program, including a new starport, complete with a cargo catapult for surface to orbit transport of locally mined ores. It also included a mag-line connecting the cities of New Berlin and Goldberg, through the starport, and a local college in Goldberg. The rumored rebellion never occurred, and the fall of the Terran government and the Exodus all led to the colonial aid packages being delivered, but there was never a complete follow-up, and Dunkelheim was left to its own devices anyways.
In the early 2790s, the chaos after the Exodus, led to some calling for a unity among all the Periphery worlds in the Fronc Reaches. From 2792 to 2793, most of the Periphery worlds in the region armed themselves as best they could, and prepared for the worst. The Inner Sphere turned on itself, and generally ignored the Rim systems.
The colony worlds often turned on themselves, sometimes trading for scarce resources, sometimes raiding for them. The environmental conditions of these border worlds meant that ongoing strife was not conducive to their survival – a slight disturbance in tech shipments, meant the death of millions who needed spare parts or rare equipment. Most can survive independently for some time; few can survive after the raids of a marauder band who take all their water purification plant filters and blow-up their power generators.
While Dunkelheim survived comfortably despite its isolation, the neighboring colonies at Hochbaden and nearby Patrician did not fare as well. Most of the food supplies for the worlds were imported from the Inner Sphere, and with the dispersion of transport, both colonies were forced to fend for themselves. Starvation was never much of a danger, but the centuries of warfare depleted most of its support tech and spare parts, with access to luxuries almost impossible. Skilled cooks became as valuable as imported lamb and fruit extracts.
Although Dunkelheim is not well supplied with water, much of its water that remains is heated by geothermal springs. This, combined with the high mineral content of the water, has led to a small health spa industry on the world. Health-seekers from abroad have occasionally made the trip to the world in search of its medical properties; something the local lack of legislation has turned many adds in Herotitus to recently attract several casino ships into the system for a month. The hospitality industry would be flourishing if only it had more direct access from outside sources. Attempts to export the local water off-world has been prohibitive and make it a slow seller.
Dunkelheim has always had a very poor interface transportation system. The catapult was built for bulk cargo launch, but passenger service is restricted to atmospheric landings. There have never been any government-sponsored interface craft on call, though there have been some private civilian agencies that are available. Prices were generally high and service unreliable, but they have always been the only game in town.
Before the Invasion : Prior to the attack on Hochbaden by White Death’s forces, the inhabitants of Dunkelheim had little real concern of raiders. Defensive preparations were minimal, although there were reports of drafts of civilian laborers being dispatched to some unknown location to improve and restock an old underground shelter abandoned during the Exodus by Star League troops. Talk of this shelter, often bandied about over whiskey at the colony’s popular watering spots, always in the category of an unconfirmed rumor; no one seemed to know anyone else who was involved in the project.
Foreigners were generally ignored in the manpower search, although several mercenaries with military hardware were known to appear for interviews with the planetary governor, and then disappear into the service of the planetary constabulary. All in all, until the fall of Hochbaden, there was little to fear of war – only when the news reached the colony of the fall of that world, did the people of Dunkelheim contemplate the possibility of trouble. By then it was too late.
In the two weeks between the first messages from Hochbaden and the arrival of the Claim Jumpers, refugees flooded her starport. It became virtually impossible to obtain passage out of the system; starship captains were bombarded with extravagent offers from people wanting to purchase space on any ship leaving port. Rioting became endemic around the port, peaking when news spread of the Jumper fleet arriving in-system.
The Invasion : Arriving, the Claim Jumpers were greeted with near-total anarchy on the planet. The government and the majority of the planet’s paramilitary forces vanished, presumably along with the flood of refugees. Remaining citizens were too disorganized to offer more than sporadic resistance to the invaders.
Although Dunkelheim was far from ideal real estate from the Jumper’s point-of-view, it played a key role in their strategy formulated by their leader. Since the colony offered no coherent resistance, the Jumpers eschewed their usual methods of all-out attack and contented themselves with landing in force at the main centers of population and technology. Occasional orbital strikes and brutal ground assaults by Jumper troops quickly subdued the already-disrupted colonists with minimal damage or loss of life, and surrenders were accepted whenever offered. The entire process of planetary conquest took only a few days. By 27th of June, 3001, Dunkelheim was firmly in Jumper hands.
Under Jumper Rule : TD saw Dunkelheim as a forward staging area for future campaigns into the Outback. Blessed with jump routes to XXX and indirectly the rest of the region, the planet was perfectly suited as a base for raiders., as well as a secure center of supply and operations. As a result, the Jumpers paused here for over a year, while local facilities were hastily converted and augmented to serve the Jumper fleet. During this period, small-scale raids were launched towards the Inner Sphere worlds, but the bulk of their strength remained concentrated in this one system. Although the Jumpers remained quarrelsome and divisive, they were better organized than the Outback military garrisons and private armies of the Periphery.
The Jumpers built-up a major “safe-place” in the Dunkelheim system – centered around the colonial catapult complex. A large fortified town, it resembles nothing as much as a large, sprawling military compound where the local garrison lives and works, taking little notice of the planet around them or the people of Dunkelheim.
The colonists on Dunkelheim faced bewildering treatment by the Jumpers ; some were carried off as slaves to work the mines and farms needed to support the garrison; some were made the targets of unprovoked military raids that seemed to have no purpose beyond the sheer love of slaughter; many were left totally to their own devices. The lack of coherent policy towards the subject colonists was perhaps more demoralizing than outright enslavement might have been, and the total lack of colonial administration on the part of the new overlords made conditions on water-poor Dunkelheim unpleasant in the extreme. More colonists ultimately were lost through famine and plague than were killed by enemy action throughout the entire period of the occupation.
The Resistance : Throughout the first two years of Jumper occupation, with much of the Jumper battlefleet remaining based in the system, and its ground troops working on the fortifications, the civilians offered a minimum of resistance. Except during the initial Jumper assault on the planet and later periodic blood baths visited upon the small groups of setters in the path of the Jumper “hunts”, the occupation met a total lack of resistance. It was only with the departure of the main force in early August 3004, that the locals began to strike their first blows against the enemy, for although the bulk of the citizenry were content to ignore and avoid conflict in hopes that it would ignore them, there already existed a strong but largely unsuspected resistance force awaiting the right moment to strike.
This resistance group was composed of the government officials, civilian workers, and planetary militia who had disappeared from the centers of population during the first days of the Jumper attack. Rather than flee the system, Governor Schmidt created a shelter facility to support a guerrilla movement. With proverbial “Dunkelheim Slyness”, this effort laid low until the Jumper presence was reduced to a reasonably manageable level. The the fight for freedom began.
It was a strange and uneven sort of guerrilla war waged against the Jumpers. Though supported by over 2000 men and women, Schmidt couldn’t make much of an impression on the powerful garrison, secure behind their walls. But his underground base was secure from all but a careful survey of the planet’s surface, remaining equally out of enemy reach. Short of leaving the compound in a dedicated planetary search, or pounding the colony to molten slag, there was little enough to do to root Schmidt out. The guerillas concentrated their efforts on small-scale operations; ambushing “hunts” and enemy patrols, raiding mines and farms to liberate slaves and deny resources to the invaders, and similar minor attacks. Their primary effectiveness was in striking viciously at Jumper groups, inflicting as much damage as possible in a short period of time, and then breaking off the action before the Jumpers can react effectively to their presence. Dunkelheim ultimately has become a running sore in the overall Jumper supply line, never vital enough to divert more forces, but a constant drain in terms of rear echelon troops and equipment to maintain the colony garrison.
Schmidt has faced more trouble from his own people than from the Jumpers. Civilian reactions varied from apathy to outright fear and loathing, especially in the early years of the occupation, when the series of sporadic, localized resistance and the massive “hunts” to exterminate the occupants of trouble spots. Once the Jumpers realized the attacks were being mounted from a hidden base, the retaliatory attacks slacked off – the Jumpers never embraced killing as a deterrent to violence, since ultimately they fail to see its value.
As Schmidt’s string of successes grew, and Jumper reactions became less dangerous to innocent bystanders, a new and almost equally troublesome problem arose among the guerillas – restraining over-eager partisans from committing the rebels to fights they couldn’t hope to win. A party emerged among the guerillas, demanding an all-out assault on the complex After failing to convince Schmidt for the assault, they hatched a scheme to eliminate him, and after that was foiled, launched a disastrous assault without his permission that resulted in a horrendous loss of life and casualties in excess of the entire occupation throughout their war.
The dismal failure of this assault quelled most, but not all, of the dissension, The savageness of the land and brutality of the Jumper overlords kept unrest high, but Schmidt maintained his authority by means of his force of character and the almost fanatical support of his closest followers.