Campaign of the Month: June 2014
Battletech : The Farscape Campaign
The Districts of Tanstaafl
Primary Region of Aurore
Tanstaafl Open Markets
The city of Tanstaafl lies at the southwestern end of a dry sea bed called the “Great Salt Flats”, and under the sheltering lee of the Barrier Mountains to the west. About 1000kms north of the city, the aptly named Equator River flows west roughly along the planetary equator. Westward lies a steep escarpment overlooking the tidal flats of Iceberg Bay – named because icebergs drifting across from the icecap frequently run aground and melt here. The settled areas extend north and south of Tanstaafl City, divided by the Barrier Mountains. Mining settlements have been established throughout the Barriers, as well as bordering the Hotback to the east. Proven resources of magnesium, bauxite, uranium, platinum and iridium, iron, and cobalt have been found and exploited throughout the region.
Tanstaafl City is the single largest settlement on the planet, with a population of around 800,000. Another 600,000 live in the area around the capital, most in farming or mining settlements numbering a few thousand at best.
Port Blackjack, east of the city on the rim of a vast dry lake bed, is Tanstaafl’s ground-space interface system, with facilities to launch and receive DropShips, hyper-transit shutels and other AeroSpace transports. An airfield south of the spaceport serves to link Tanstaafl with The District of Aurore, as well as its own limited air network, though contact with The District of New Haven has always been sporadic and limited. Air transport through various shuttles and prop-driven VTOLs is common enough to be regularly available to even the lowliest passenger.
Most of the settled regions around the city are small villages and co-operatives with small populations, and most are agricultural. Products include apples and apple hardwood, guinea pig meat, hydroponic fruit and vegetables, and fish.
Recent improvements of small-scale fusion generators and automated factory modules, have worked to greatly reduce the colony’s need for dependence on outside resources. While weapons are still in sharp demand, consumer goods are in sufficient quantity to meet civilian demands for luxuries, though the use of these facilities to supply the general populace has been met with criticism from the older pirates and marshals in the military. Heavy weapons and armored vehicles remain critically in short supply among militia forces.
The colony maintains a free market economy, capitalist economy – anything can be had for the right price; the government, as such, has very limited control of anything directly in the market, though it does control key industries. Petty corruption and inefficiency has hampered formal military operations, and bribery is often needed to speed the bureaucratic nightmare along. Among most Kindred and Support citizens, however, the freedom to move without restrictions, and conduct business without excessive taxation, are seen as good things, while dealing with the red-tape of acquiring more than a full ration of food, fuel or water is difficult.
Some, within the military, view the near-anarchy of Tanstaafl’s government as worse than a hardship. Petty corruption and inefficiency hampers industrial production of munitions, and supplies for combined military operations (such as scheduled assaults or orbital drops) enough that there is serious talk among the veteran Marshals, that the Warlord needs to be removed, and a new consortium of military leaders be formed. While the central government is aware of these talks, they do not seem very concerned; however, needless to say, this sort of open talk tends to get one killed.
Typical Tanstaafl Hydroponics Farm
Agriculture : Perhaps 800,000 people live in the surrounding areas of Tanstaafl City, most in villages or homestead settlements numbering a few hundred at most. These communities are farming co-operatives with products of apples and apple wines; corn, wheat, and hybrid grains; native hardwood; guinea pig meat; hydroponic fruits, vegetables, and fish.
While agriculture is a dominating factor for the bulk of the local population, most of it requires a certain technical knowledge to maintain, which drives basic technical training even among the poorest citizens. The limits of bringing in soil and hydroponics equipment from off-world, demands support for local farming efforts from the government, and that, in turn, means money. Even the smallest farmer has a substantial investment in equipment to maintain their efforts, and if they cannot fulfill exact quotas, often lose their farms to someone who can. Agro-processing, amounts to another 10% of colonial exports.
The only other form of agricultural export, is the ubiquitous Aurorewood production. These “trees” are extremely common, and have proven valuable to the wealthy who seek a substitute to local woods. Aurorewood is highly lustrous and very strong, making it an ideal construction material and popular among furniture manufacturers. Its pulp can make for a unique form of paper, and its use as a firewood, while expensive, produces a unique flame, and can last for a longer period of time than expected.
Tanstaafl Industrial Sector
Industry : The vast majority of mass production in the system is concentrated in the industrial quarter of Tanstaafl City, and is listed in that section. In addition, there are mining and agricultural efforts of the same firms in the nearby region. In addition, Starhammer Forge maintains two major production facilities, and Vengeance Incorporated has its production facility all located in the rural portions of the districts, near their own resource chains.
Cloth manufacturing is the largest single factor of colonial exports, amounting to 15% of its total, while it dominates the domestic market at around 50% of the colony’s exports. While mining and refining efforts are vital to supporting the local economy, none of it sees export off-world, with the exception of gemstones; especially rubies, sapphires and beryls. Its sapphires are especially valuable in colonial industrial laser production, and are a valuable export good.
Much of the colonial industry is based from small-scale efforts and includes weaving, wood products (mostly furniture and paper), agriculture (which employs clearly 80% of the support population), and fiber products from waste products of other industries.
The colony at Tanstaafl is also the end destination for most of the associated worlds products from throughout the Cluster, and it exports much of its goods and finished products like food and consumer electronics to these worlds in exchange. As a result, control of the industries in Tanstaafl district, also controls the other colony worlds and districts in its network. In many ways, Tanstaafl is the Haven Cluster.
Districts of Tanstaafl
There are five major districts within the Districts of Tanstaafl, each with its own notable population centers and industries. Settlement within each is also variable.
(Pop – 840,000) : The local population around the city of Tanstaafl and its starport, contains extensive agricultural and mining areas to the south and east. The area is divided between the Barrier Hills (named because they sheltered the initial colony outpost from storms out of the west), and a broad river valley to the south. Agriculture : Apples, hydroponics, wheat, corn, rabbits and fish. Other : Aurorewood, paper, metal ores, construction materials, methanol, whisky.
Confluence : (Pop – 6500). A farming community nestled against the vast southern forests of Aurorewood, it produces corn, apples, hydroponics, fish and “Applejack” whiskey. This is the community furthest south in the colony.
Farside : (Pop – 1100). A small farming community producing corn, the site is also famous as the location of a large salvage works. Most of the locals are employed tearing apart equipment for use in the colony, salvaging damaged goods brought back from the Warlord’s raiding forces. As expected, technical expertise is rather high, though much of the community looks like a giant scrap heap. Indeed, a series of workshops and waste dumps is centered around four massive, “Field Repair Bays”, providing an organized collection of production facilities useful in repair work, as well as limited production of line Mechs. Known as Vengeance Incorporated, the facility has recently begun to get funding from unknown outside investors, for new tools and parts.
Plateau : (Pop – 9300). An agricultural town northeast of the Barrier Ridge, it serves as a local market town, producing light textiles. It also has a small airfield.
Sage Falls : (Pop – 12,800). An important site for Aurorewood harvesting and paper manufacture, the town also sports a large hydroelectric facility providing electricity to the colony. It also possesses a small airfield.
Vista : (Pop – 1700). A small workhouse community producing ferrocrete for Tanstaafl proper.
Zuckerman : (Pop – 8000). This agricultural community is noted for its alcohol production. It also has a small airfield.
(Pop – 10,700) : Very lightly populated, this district only has settlements in its eastern portions. It is dominated by the tidal flats east of Iceberg Bay, and by the vast and rolling Western Plains. The Equator River flows out of the Valley District, turns north and vaults into a 200m plume of water and spray called the Thundermist. Visibility is always poor from the top of the cliffs from this spray, but the view is spectacular nonetheless, shrouded in clouds and rainbows.
Southest of the Thundermist is a place where the Equator River is rarely more than ankle deep across a shelf of hard rock. This ford, known as “The Lower Crossings of the Equator”, is the location of a small outpost manned by a company of Mechs from the Cluster military. It is considered a training outpost, and often the location for new members of the military. Agriculture : Hydroponics, apples, wheat, corn and fish. Others : Tin, bauxite, copper, and some heavy metals (iron, silver, uranium, titanium, and cobalt).
Caldera : (Pop – 3500). A small mining town perched in the crater of Caldera, a large extinct volcano that dominates the western approaches. It produces the heavy metals needed by the growing industry of the colony. It has a small airfield.
Donner : (Pop – 3000). A market community, notable as the furthest north-west center in the colony. It produces corn, wheat, apples, hydroponics, fish, and some bauxite, copper and tin mining. The Lower Crossing is about 150kms north of this town, and the town is often noted for having a raucous nightlife in its handful of taverns.
(Pop – 110,730). Dominated by the broad Equator River Valley, this region includes a broad, swift-flowing river girded by sheer-walled cliffs; the northern reaches of the Barrier Ridge; and the Northern Mountains which are part of the tectonic folds flanking its tidal bore. Dry Lake Flats is a desert, the dried bed of a salt lake drained by a sudden seismic cataclysm many thousand years ago. The surface is now a mixture of sand and salt flats 120 kms wide, and stretching over 300 kms from Tanstaafl City to Worththetrip.
The Equator Valley was first entered and settled by prospectors in 2762. The area has developed a light industrial section, supported by its access to metals and other ores delved in the district. A couple of timber camps are located in the far northeast, outside of the industrial centers. Agriculture : Corn, apples, hydroponics, guinea pigs, and fish. Other : Aurorewood, tin, bauxite, copper, lead, iron, potash, ferrocrete, machine tools and machine parts.
Avarice : (Pop – 5000). A small mining community, that has converted its spent mining sites into underground hydroponic gardens. Formerly the site of a wealthy silver strike.
Binker : (Pop – 12,000). A farming community.
Equator Flats : (Pop – 10,000). An agricultural community, this town also has a small manufacturing complex. It produces some light vehicles and harvesting equipment, but also mixes terra-formed soil for the rest of the colony. The popular Jumper Transport Vehicle are built here, and an occasional heavy Medium “5-Ton” Utility Transport, as a branch of the Starhammer Forge. The community has an airfield.
Eta Home : (Pop – 18,000). A growing agricultural community, and the center of much of the local colonial immigration.
Hamilton : (Pop – 12,000). A community of light manufacturing, this town is host to the planet’s only full-scale manufacturing plant, the Starhammer Forge. It primarily produces armor plate for the military and mercenary Starlords along with the popular Mule Utility Transport, but also builds a few Amalek-Class Wheeled APC, and the occasional VMk3 Valence Exoskeleton. Recent construction at this site has hinted that they might be expanding their production lines. There is a small airfield, and it maintains regular flights to Blackjack Airfield.
Highrise : (Pop – 3000). A market community, isolated from most of the colony by being on the other side of the Equator River. It produces the usual corn, apples and hydroponics, but also serves as a muster point for several small mining camps in the north, and so produces bauxite, tin and some heavy metals.
Worththetrip : (Pop – 2500). This small community is a farming community for corn, apples, hydroponics, fish and serves as a fueling stop, popular with transport drivers headed to Tanstaafl City.
Zero : (Pop – 12,000). This community has a wide agricultural base, and is the center of an important market, but also produces ferrocrete which is used across the colony. The bridge here is the only means across the Equator River without using hovercraft along the few non-sheer sections.
(Pop – Negligible). This region is lightly settled by isolated homesteads along its western edge, and a single mining outpost deep in the eastern stretches at Mount Phaeton. This outpost has struck extremely rich reserves of copper and heavy metals, due in large part to the recent acquisition of several dozen “Tunnel Rat” mining exo-suits. There are plans to build a formal support community here, and an airfield is in its final stages of completion. The survey group has taken to calling the site Lightningstrike.
The principal natural features in both areas are the Equator River to the north, and a series of volcanoes along the south ridge of the valley. Large heavily forested stretches range across the region, especially thick along the south. At the extreme eastern edge of the region, lie the foothills of the High Desert Plateau, eventually becoming the 5km-high plateau wall.
(Pop – Negligible). The single most impressive feature of the area, is the tidal gulf known simply as “The Gulf”. Over 100 kms wide in places, and as much as a kilometer deep, the area is assaulted once each day by a tidal flow of water, over 480 meters high and reaching 180 kph. Explorers have been deafened by the roar of incoming water, and hearing protection is advised by any who come within a few kms of the Gulf.
The area remains virtually unexplored. Survey parties have come to the region seeking heavy metals deposits, but other than the rims of the Gulf, it remains untouched. Mount St. Victoria is an enormous shield mountain over 400 kms across and reaching some 5000m above sea level. South of the Gulf is a labyrinth canyon system called Thunder Valley. Part of the Iceberg Bay tidal flat extends into the southwest portion of the district.
Tanstaafl – The name comes form the comic-popular acronym for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” – began as a privately funded colonial project of a consortium of mining and agricultural corporations from the Taurian Concordat, in 2571. Established just prior to the Reunification War, this colony was known as the Badlands Cluster, and Tanstaafl quickly became the business center for the colony.
The Reunification War itself was fairly uneventful, save for a few die-hards in the other colonies, but Tanstaafl itself was subsumed into the Star League through bribery, and quickly fell into line with almost no casualties.
Scandal and bankruptcy during the 2nd Succession War ravaged the colony and when the colony lost access to its HPG and effectively “went dark”, the criminal elements came to the fore, and the colony became a pirate stronghold.
In the mid-2960s, the colony was rife with scandal and militancy led to a coup by 2968, when the Reaver Lord Ichobad took control. Much of present-day Haven society is based from Ichobad’s reign, and is tied very closely to the developmental history of Starlords – “The Brethren of the Void”.