Mustered Out on Regina
Sethgnakh Library Data
Affiliation: Vargr – Worlds of Leader Rukh
Planetary details: Starport class D, Poor quality installation. Only unrefined fuel is available. No repair or shipyard facilities are available.
World diameter is 8000 miles (12800 km).
5 million inhabitants
Impersonal Bureaucracy – Government by agencies which are insulated from the governed
Law Level C: Extreme law – Unrestricted invasion of privacy. All weapon ownership is strictly prohibited.
Tech Level 4: circa 1884
Trade Classifications: Non-Industrial, Rich, Agricultural
Vargr worlds tend to polarize into two types of organization. In the majority of cases, worlds are either anarchic or balkanized as several high charisma individuals are involved in a constant scramble for power. In other cases, however, one very charismatic individual has gained absolute power in the past and continues to hold on to it through his charisma and brute force which keeps the status quo through oppression. Sethgnakh is an excellent example of the latter.
If you can imagine George Orwell’s 1984 reset in Victorian times, then you’ll have a good understanding as to the feel of this world.
Sethgnakh is one of the very few fertile worlds in the Spurl sector and so it was one of the first of the worlds to be settled during the Diaspora. Being such a large planet, in the early days of Sethgnakh’s colonization, there was more than enough land for everyone and so the majority of the Vargr were able to live on a self-sufficient basis, which meant that there was little need for conflict or any major power groups to form. Most Vargr seemed content living their simple rustic lives and there was little motivation for technological innovation.
The situation began to change, however, as the systems around Sethngakh, most of them being mining colonies – technologically advanced but in desperate need of natural foods – saw Sethngakh as the only location in the area which would be able to provide for their needs. Some tried, and in many cases succeeded, in taking what they needed by force, which led the Vargr which had been living on isolated farms in extended family groups to band together under the more charismatic of the farmers. Other visitors were prepared to trade to get their foodstuffs and were prepared to offer a lot in order to get what they wanted, offering high-tech goods in return. This led to some of the native Sethgnakh farmers to start getting greedy as the offworlders had a seemingly insatiable appetite for all the meat and cereals that the farmers were able to provide for them.
Within a couple of generations, the peaceful situation on Sethgnakh had changed totally as the most charismatic of the farmers became dominant, providing protection against those offworlders looking to take the world’s foodstuffs by force, and getting rich by trading. As the Sethnghaks became more organized, they became less at risk from offworlders’ looting and pillaging and increasingly rich through the mining colonies’ need for foodstuffs exceeding supply, thus continually raising prices. This led to much fighting between the leading ‘food barons’ as they fought one another to take each other’s foodstuffs in order to sell them or, failing that, to burn their competitors’ crops in order to keep prices high – a typical Vargr anarchic situation.
This situation remained until 957, when one particularly charismatic Vargr named Aeaezllo became so powerful that the other food barons realized that they were powerless to stand against him, and so they agreed to swear fealty to him. Under Aeaezllo, Sethnghak became a typical feudal society with the barons owning most of the land and the farmers beneath them working the farms for them, with Aeaezllo taking tribute from each of the barons. Aeaezello proved to be a good leader economically as well as militarily and his rule was seen as the ‘Golden Age of Sethgnakh’ as the barons were getting seriously rich.
Unfortunately, Aeaezello died in 989 without producing a sufficiently charismatic heir to carry on his rule. None of the individual barons were charismatic enough either to take over Aeaezello’s position. The barons knew that they were onto a good thing in Aeazello’s day and did not want to return to the anarchy that existed before he came to power. Using the infrastructure that Aeazello set up, each of the barons sent an Emissary to Aeazello’s former palace to thrash out a deal on their behalf.
Negotiations between the barons’ Emissaries dragged on as none of the barons wanted to see any of his rivals assume the position of overall leader. During the long negotiations, the world started to descend into anarchy. The barons realized that this was the worst possible result and so, as an interim measure, they asked the Emissaries to form a caretaker government, with each of them becoming the head of a ministry.
This proved to be a great success for all concerned. Emissaries proved to be far better at governing than any of the barons were as they built up a great bureaucracy, and the barons were happy because they each had an Emissary in the government who would look after their own interests, while giving the barons more time and money to spend in it.
In the late 1060’s, Sethgnahk started to become aware of Leader Rukh and the Empire which he was fast creating to Coreward. Sethgnakh had only been investing the bare minimum amounts into the world’s infrastructure, with a Navy only large enough to protect against small time groups of corsairs. They knew that they could never hope to protect themselves from the already considerable might of Rukh.
The barons saw in Rukh a true charismatic leader in the style of Aeaezello and decided that Sethgnakh should cede independence to Rukh in return for the Emissaries and barons running the show they always had done and to gain access to other major markets within the Rukh territories. The best of Sethgnakh’s Emissaries were sent to Saell to broker a deal.
They returned some six months later to say that they had go what they wanted in terms of being allowed to continue with their own style of government and get access to new markets but, in return, the world would need to pay high taxes to Rukh so that he was able to continue with his expansion. The barons were less than happy with this, but realized that they had little choice and so became a member of the Worlds of Leader Rukh in 1069.
Although the trading routes that this opened brought in more money, the taxes were eating into the barons’ margins heavily. They did not like this at all and so decided that the workers should pay the taxes, which led to most of the Vargr falling into absolute poverty. There were several riots when the taxes were implemented, which the Government countered by hiring massive numbers of police and raising the Law Level to Draconian levels.
Sethgnakh is a garden world in that it is very similar to Terra, being of a similar size, having a standard atmosphere and a similar hydrographic percentage. It differs, however, in terms of having a much greater coaxial tilt, which limits the useful land to the bands between the two Tropics. This has proved to be little problem to the population of Sethgnakh though as it still has substantially more land available for cultivation than the population of 5 million can hope to work for many centuries to come.
As a result, currently only the south-eastern quadrant of main continent of Sethgnakh, Noeladzzaere, is inhabited, with the rest of the continent and all of the other continents on the world remaining as virgin forests which contains an abundance of wildlife.
Sethgnakh’s capital, Zongtzoesa, where the starport is located, is the only major city on the world. Each of the barons are also the mayor of their own towns, which range in size from 10-50,000 people. The bulk of the population, however, live in small villages or on isolated farms where they are involved in farming, which is the lifeblood of Sethgnakh’s economy.
Sethgnakh’s economy is completely dependent upon agriculture as the land is very fertile but contains few minerals of value. Originally, most of Sethgnakh was forested, but this has been clearcut to create more land for farming.
With Vargr being primarily carnivorous in nature, most of the agriculture takes the form of raising animals for slaughter, although large tracts of land are arable to grow the cereals which also make up a significant proportion of the Vargr diet and also provides feed for the animals.
With most of the inhabited systems around Sethgnakh consisting of lifeless mining worlds, there is a massive demand for natural food products, which is why Sethgnakh is classified as a Rich world as the world is one of the major exporters in the subsector.
There is little industry of any note on Sethgnakh as the majority of the population are too poor to afford much in the way of consumer durables. The rich elite are able to import all they need offworld and simply throw things away or sell them to visiting junk dealers to buy newer items when they break down.
Sethgnakh’s starport, located 50km from the capital, Zongtzoesa, is unremarkable in nature having a typical lack of facilities as can be expected from a Class-D starport. Much of the traffic consists of large bulk freighters which ship Sethgnakh’s food stuffs off the world, bringing in high tech consumer durables for the elite in return.
Many of the barons have expensive Yachts parked at the spaceport. There is a separate section and terminal for the elite, keeping them away from the main part of the spaceport, which has extensive warehouses for the agricultural products.
There are several hotels of budget to medium standard located at the starport. In order to leave the starport, visitors are required to meet with a Political Education Officer. This meeting takes a minimum of four hours during which time visitors are expected to learn all of the various laws on Sethgnakh and also learn the words of the Hymn to our Great Leader Rukh. At the end of the meeting, potential visitors are given a multiple choice exam, with only those passing the exam allowed to leave the starport. The price of the exam is Cr. 100 per person. Multiple attempts at passing the exam are possible, as long as the potential visitors pay for each one.
Most visitors can’t be bothered to go through all this effort and stay within the limits of the starport rather than entering the capital city. Many barons’ brokers exploit this by offering much lower prices for imported goods than those that could be obtained by shopping around for a buyer in Zongtzoesa.
It is difficult to place Sethgnakh in one standard category when it comes to governmental type. As Sethgnakh is part of the Worlds of Leader Rukh, it could be said to be a Charismatic Dictatorship. In reality though, Rukh has little involvement in the day-to-day government of the world, providing that Sethgnakh keeps to its obligations regarding taxes and manpower for Rukhian forces, which Sethgnakh does.
Sethgnakh could also be said to be a Self-Perpetuating Oligarchy as the world is most definitely run by the rich farm barons who have the ultimate decisions as to what happens on the world.
What the public sees, however, is an Impersonal Bureaucracy where the day-to-day running is left to the Emissaries nominated by the barons. In order to increase in charisma, all of the Emissaries try to ensure that their own departments are the biggest and most important, which results in theor trying to come up with as many laws as possible in their field and then employing as many staff as they can possibly get away with in order to enforce the laws. Over the 115 years that the system has been in operation, this has led to an insanely complex amount of legislation and an army of bureaucrats who create work for the sake of it.
Although Sethgnakh is a Rich World, 90% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of 1% of the population. The vast majority of the population lives in abject poverty, only able to survive through raising their own animals and growing their own food on their own smallholdings. They are paid a pittance from the food barons for their services and, for most of the population outside the towns and capital, this is the only type of employment open to them apart from joining the police.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of the population are none too happy about this situation and rioting is common place. The authorities have countered this problem with increasingly Draconian measures being forced upon the main population which has led to their having virtually no personal freedom whatsoever. Over the decades since the Emissaries took over the running of the country,the situation has become worse and worse, but it was only when Sethgnakh became part of the Worlds of Leader Rukh that matters really came to a head when the need to pay substantial taxes each year to Rukh led to the taxes being passed on to the regular populace. It was at this time that all weapons in personal use were banned, with the penalty for anything larger than a bread knife being hanging. Naturally such laws do not apply to the barons, their bodyguards or the police. These laws present a lot of problems to farmers out in the wilds as there are many vicious predators on Sethgnakh which the farmers are unable to take care of themselves.
As the number of laws passed by the bureaucrats increased, so did the numbers of police required to enforce them. Around 1 in 20 of the entire population of Sethgnakh is now a policeman (the police is a para-military force and parts of it are often required to serve with standing armies called by Leader Rukh).
Punishments for even the most minor of crimes is hanging, with lesser crimes being punished by the culprits being forced into work camps (usually clearing forests to free up more agricultural land).
Despite the best efforts of the police and lawmakers, rioting is still commonplace on Sethgnakh, although the riots tend to disperse quickly when the police arrive in force and start working on their ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ policy. A significant proportion of the population is now living as outlaws, able to hide in the vast tracts of virgin forests almost indefinitely without being spotted by the authorities. There are rumours of some of these outlaw bands having started new colonies on some of the supposedly unsettled islands and smaller continents on the world.
The latest weapon against ‘crime’ on Sethgnakh is the introduction of the Llagkfaerrgkoeaer or ‘Thought Police’ which took the form of a government established Psionic Institute which was founded in 1084. This institute was satirized in the recent Anti-Rukh Coalition holovid, Thought Police Academy 3: I Know What You’re Planning on Doing Next Summer. Don’t! The Psions who graduate from the Institute infiltrate rebel organizations in order to try and find out which charismatic individuals are organizing the riots and then they are dealt with brutally.
Even with all of these countermeasures, there are still occasions when highly charismatic commoners generate such massive amounts of support that they threaten the status quo. In these cases, the bureaucrats solve the problem by means of bribery. Emissaries offer such individuals newly cleared land to develop (cleared by the work camps), some starting capital and the offer of some new pointless government department for his lieutenants to run and this usually solves the problem.
The food barons were very keen on keeping the economy of Sethgnakh on an Agrarian basis and so there was no need for an Industrial Revolution here – there would be little demand for the products coming from factories in any case because the citizens have so little disposable income that they couldn’t afford to buy anything. There are, therefore, few factories on Sethgnakh and those that do exist are usually for the benefit of the food barons, usually preparing food for export such as canneries, etc., although there are some factories producing materials required in large numbers by the bureaucracy, uniforms and guns for the police, for example, and paper mills for the vast numbers of memos that are produced by the various different departments.
But this is not to say that all of Sethgnakh is so primitive. The centre of the capital city, Zongtzoesa, is blocked off from the slums that makes up the majority of the building. Entrance to this area costs Cr.50 per day, or Cr.200 per week or Cr.500 per month, meaning that it is well outside the pockets of all but the barons and the most important bureaucrats. This area contains some of the highest-quality and most expensive, high-tech items from throughout the Worlds of Leader Rukh – mostly from Saell and Orra, so they are Tech Level F. Prices here have a massive supplement over regular prices though – 20-120% over list price because of the cost of importing everything in such limited numbers – and because the oligarchs can afford it. Along with such expensive imported items are very high quality, but incredibly expensive, service industries with excellent hotels, restaurants, casinos, brothels and private clubs.