Living Steel is a complete high-tech role-playing system. Included are all the rules necessary for play, as well as guidelines for the game's setting, the world of Rhand. The action begins in the year 2349; the players find themselves in the middle of Humanity's Apocalypse, and are faced with the twin tasks of surviving and rebuilding civilization. Working against them are vast numbers of brigands, madmen, and hostile aliens, and the fact that technology is breaking down rapidly. The players have talent and experience on their side, however, as well as a few of the sophisticated Power Armor suits for which the game is named; Living Steel. From that starting point, the players determine their own futures.
Humanity's society has degenerated into a caste system, ruled by the corporations of the Starguild. People are divided into three hereditary classes; Starcaste, Landcaste, and Bondsmen. The Starcaste consists of the members of the Starguild and, as the rulers of the Imperium, they are the only ones to fully benefit from Humanity's advances. Their stature is secured by their great wealth, their monopoly on advanced technology, and the military superiority that those things guarantee. They are served by the Landcaste, a class of people who oversee production and who manage the lives of the Bondsmen. The Bondsmen are by far the most numerous, and by far the least privileged. They are the common people, the ones who do the work and whose lives are filled with labor and struggle, but hold little hope.
Humanity was not always a stagnant tool of the
Starguild, however. Long ago, a single planetary system stood against the
oppression of the Imperium. It was the Seven Worlds" system, and its code
of freedom and justice, and its refusal to compromise its ideals, drew
the hatred of the Starguild.
For decades, the Starguild attacked the Seven Worlds. Rebels and free spirits throughout known space rallied to the Seven Worlds to do battle with the Starcaste system, but they could not stand against the full might of the Imperium. In 2194 the Seven Worlds was defeated, and the Imperium attempted to consolidate its victory by recolonizing the system.
Somehow the spirit of the Seven Worlds endured through these dark times, and occasionally surged into open rebellion. Throughout Humanity's holdings, however, the Starcaste system became entrenched, and the Imperium's power grew ever stronger. This trend continued until, in 2339, at the height of its power, the Imperium came under attack from Humanity's newest and most deadly enemy, the Spectrals
Jet-black, unthinking creatures bent on
genocide, the Spectrals shattered the Imperium. Their power was immense,
and their abilities superhuman. The Starguild crumbled, its members abandoning
each other to the enemy, as each corporation desperately tried to defend
itself from the aliens.
In the first quarter of 2349, the Spectrals came to the troubled world of Rhand. On its surface, the Imperium was in the middle of attempting to discipline a rebellious Starcaste division, called Trident/RMBK. Negotiations were breaking down, and a war of espionage raged. In space, the fleets of the Imperium and Trident/RMBK faced off, awaiting the order to begin combat.
At that critical moment, with tensions at their highest, the Spectrals entered the system. With the full attention of all the Humans in the system focussed on the struggle between Trident/RMBK and the Imperium, the Spectral craft was able to surprise and destroy the Human fleets. It then set about destroying the planet's industrial capacity. Power generators were smashed, communications disrupted, and factories, businesses, and warehouses bombed into rubble. The highly sophisticated network of experimental teleportation satellites was also ruined, and the Spectrals released combat teams, tons of armaments, and a particularly vicious virus near all population centers.
Yet before the invasion was complete, the Spectral warship was destroyed. How this was accomplished remains a mystery, but it seemed to matter little; the bulk of the intended damage was already done. Within a few days, the planet's industry was crippled and its social structure utterly shattered. The majority of the population was infected by the virus, which rendered them permanently unstable and sociopathic. Those not infected now find themselves faced with the seemingly hopeless task of remaining alive in a world thrown into chaos.
Hope and help does exist for these people, though,
and it comes from an unexpected source. Many of the finest warriors and
heroes of the Seven Worlds had been saved from its defeat, and placed in
stasis to await a better time. Scattered across the planet, small groups
of these heavily armed and specially trained people are waking from their
century long sleep, and are emerging to lead the battle for Rhand.
They have been released into Humanity's Apocalypse to form the nucleus of Operation Seven Swords. Their goal is to rebuild the civilization of the Seven Worlds from the turmoil of Rhand: a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Although they come from another time and place, they are the ideal champions for Humanity, because they are the bearers of a dream.
A dream that makes them Living Steel.
He could hear machinery humming in the distance. Gravity showed as 1.06 Standard; this was not Alpha, then, nor was it a ship under drive. Activating visuals, he found that he was flat on his back, in what appeared to be an open shipping container, its packing cushions deflated and hanging in folds from the sides. There was a bland ceiling overhead, and the room was lit by diffuse light.
The voice was his Bicomp; the target designator, decoder, and processor for his suit's complex functions. It was waking him, using standard procedure. Why was I shocked at the greeting I've heard hundreds of mornings, Jason wondered. Perhaps it was the dream...
No, it had not been a dream. He remembered the assault; scores of Powered and NonPowered Imperials swarming into the compound, heavy weapons fire, smoke and chaf everywhere, the switch to boost power, and then a sudden bolt of pain.
"Greetings, Jason. Welcome to Rhand."
Jason remained immobile. It had been fifteen seconds since he first woke, and he was still adapting to the situation. It had never taken him so long before. Jason cleared his mind, drove out speculation, and focused on his sensors. They showed nothing new, and no life forms. The atmosphere was good, with abundant carbon dioxide. His passive sensors showed movement 10 meters to his right, beyond a wall. The container he was in was sturdy, obviously made to handle the half-ton weight of his Power Armor. The floor was also solid, designed to support him. Switching to active sensors and commanding full boost power, he rose from the container, ready for action.
He was in a small room, with a closed door in front of him. An unfamiliar triangular logo was boldly printed on it. Large crates and shipping boxes filled the room, allowing him just enough room to move comfortably.
His suit seemed impossibly light and swift, and he almost overcompensated on his first few steps. Jason glanced down at himself, while tracking the door with his sensors. The armor was new, of a design he had never seen. Internally it was identical to his 7SPA7, but externally it was magnificent. Jason's trained eye took in the subtle design features which indicated decades of field testing.
"Status green on all functions, Jason. Bicomp
to brief you," the voice stated in his ear.
"Chip, run ID on image C," Jason commanded, as he placed the lettering and logo on the door in his central view screen.
"By `Chip', I assume you mean me," said the Bicomp, its voice taking on a pleasant female tone. "I am your Bicomp9, Jason. You are lucky to have a unit like me. I am generations ahead of the old Bicomp you are familiar with. You will find that my capabilities far exceed those of your previous unit. My name is Val."
"ID image C," Jason repeated, as he searched for the identity of the person behind the voice. Surely no simple Bicomp spoke this way.
"ORCA; Orbital Remote Commuter Access, Trident trademark and logo. Registered with the Imperial Trademarks Office during the third quarter of 2294," replied Val. The date. The date must be wrong, thought Jason. Before he could inquire, Val continued.
"Current Standard Date 2349. Vykron, Jason C., White Sword 7SPA, evacuated from Alpha, District 3, by RQ Services Emergency Team, Standard Date 22.10.2194. Wounds critical. Spinal injuries irreparable. Treatment deferred, and patient transferred and held in stasis within 8011 to await medical advances. Refab at Scan facility 43A39 Standard Date 29.11.2345. Transported to Starguild holding Rhand, Argent sector, Standard Date 17.01.2347."
"Stop," stated Jason. Faced with the impossible, he sought action. He began to move quickly for the door, but halted almost immediately. At that moment his Golem Encoder, an artificial network of neural synapses woven into his brain, began transmitting a message to him. The Golem was his unbreakable link to the leaders of the Seven Worlds, the only people whose orders he would obey. His mind automatically decoded the signal, which contained only a single, top-priority code trigger, a phrase which signalled an incoming message; "The coming of Vir."
"Yes, Jason, the fight continues. And I am as much a part of the Operation as you are," Val stated. Jason knew she spoke the truth. "The coming of Vir" was the top-level code trigger of the Seven Worlds, and was used only with the elite Kami, such as himself, and a few special operatives. If Val were not to be trusted, he would not be receiving his orders. "You have been held for reassignment on Rhand," continued Val. "We are to take part in Operation Seven Swords."
The Golem device began to receive the rest of the message. It came clear and strong into his mind. "RHAND: APOCALYPSE - PHOENIX."
So it has come to the Apocalypse, thought Jason.
APOCALYPSE was the code indicating the fall of the Seven Worlds. Standard
orders said that all units were to hold or retreat as required, while salvaging
all personnel, both combatants and non-combatants. All units were to prepare
to operate independently until help arrived. And the PHOENIX; prepare to
carry on without assistance indefinitely. Save the culture and soul of
the people of the Seven Worlds for a time when they might rise again. "Tactical
status report on Rhand, Argent sector," commanded Jason. He had a mission
now, and although a thousand doubts threatened him, he focused himself
on the mission, eager for the data that would answer his many questions.
"There is no time for a complete tactical status report," stated Val. "You
must assume command of your Operation Team in eighteen minutes. I will
prepare you with a short briefing so you can inform them of the situation."
"My Operation Team?" interrupted Jason. "Things must be desperate if I have been chosen to lead a Team after a century of sleep. I know nothing about this planet, or even about current technology. I'm certainly not fit for command."
"Not so," said Val. "You are uniquely and superbly qualified for this task. Your soul carries the vision and ideals for a better world, Jason. Who better to restore the great Dream? And Rhand is a suitable base on which to start. It is a fertile, sparsely populated planet where the tyranny of the Starguild has not been established. Its people are resourceful and free."
"How can it be free?" asked Jason. "Nobody is free from the Starlords, unless they are in a rebel system. You already told me Rhand is a Starguild company holding." "It was a Starguild company holding," injected Val. "Rhand does not belong to anyone at present, and the struggle to control it has just begun. No Starlords rule the space of Rhand, no Management House owns the land. There will be no stardrive entering this system for a long time, and during this time you can establish a free planet. The Phoenix, Jason. That is the important part of this task."
Interesting, thought Jason. A planet free from
Starguild tyranny, and free of blackmail by their vast military and space
forces. A planet which could develop its own destiny, rather than being
yet another stagnant tool of the galactic guild. "What forces are at my
"Niki, Marcel, and Trent are here," replied Val. "I assume you will use them as lieutenants. They are highly qualified. The troops are, however, untested and disorganized." Niki, Marcel, and Trent alive! Then others have survived as well, thought Jason. "How many of us made it off Alpha?"
"I only know of the four of you," replied Val. With that she began the briefing. "Rhand, Argent sector, Trident company holding. Primary function, resort planet for Starguild elite. Secondary function, location of Trident/RMBK and Scan Technologies Inc. research facilities.
"In recent years the Starguild has been invaded by an extremely hostile alien race called the Spectrals, and two months ago Rhand was attacked by Spectral forces. The attack was made by a single armed jump conveyor. It entered the system undetected, and destroyed the small Starfleets stationed here before they were aware of its presence.
"Once in orbit about Rhand, a planetwide biological
attack was made. A virus was dispersed that altered human psychological
structure, and which affected approximately 80% of the population. This
virus produces permanent wide spectrum violent behavioral patterns termed
Virally Induced Sociopathic Response. The invading craft also bombarded
all high-technology installations, and then transported down thousands
of weapons, as well as dozens of infantry platoons. This infantry captured
key facilities such as power generators and launching docks. The invasion
was proceeding well for the Spectrals when their ship was destroyed. The
cause of its destruction remains a mystery, but in any event there has
been no relief, and none is expected. Their forces are now as isolated
as ours. At present, the planet is in chaos. The Spectrals and their servant
races are no longer cooperating. The entire population is on the move,
fighting and struggling to survive. The world as a whole is populated by
bands of crazed madmen, but there are a few pockets of civilization made
up of small groups of people unaffected by the viral attack. It is your
mission to contact, protect, and organize these people.
"At your disposal are a limited amount of supplies and some members of the Alpha Teams. The Alpha Teams were the planet's emergency squads before the invasion, and included personnel such as paramedics, fire fighters, and repair teams. Most are civilians and are not affiliated with the Starguild or with Landcaste Management. They have all been screened, and can be trusted.
"Rhand's Alpha Teams came from the ORCA teleportation system, which operated four satellites. These satellites, advanced versions of the Dragonstar teleporters with which you are familiar, teleported people and equipment anywhere on the planet. To minimize response time, the Alpha Teams were stored in stasis in the satellite's memory banks, and delivered upon command, as needed, anywhere on the planet. The Spectral attack destroyed three of the four satellites and damaged the fourth. The damaged satellite has some autonomous self repair capability and was able to resume operations after two months. That occurred shortly before you were awakened. Now a few of the Alpha Team members are being assembled in this facility for you to brief. You must use your command skills to pull them together and help them cope with the situation. They were in stasis before the initial attack and know nothing of the current situation." A silence followed, and Jason shook his head when he realized that Val had finished.
"You expect me to carve out a Holding with civilians?"
He did not expect an answer; it was clear that the Operation would require
the impossible of him. Just himself and three old friends, along with a
disorganized band of untried civilians, against a world in chaos...
But no, that was not all. Val had said that only a few of the Teams were his. And that meant that there were others elsewhere, other Teams on Rhand, and other survivors of the Seven Worlds.
I'm just one cell in the Operation, he realized. I might never know of any others. The Apocalypse required that each cell function as an independent element, each one striving for rebirth, a Phoenix rising from the ashes. In time, the cells which survived might reunite.
"So it's not over, then," said Jason.
"Not at all, Jason," replied Val. "It has just begun."
It is into this chaos that the characters have been thrown. Some are Swords, some Alpha Team members, but all have a common goal; to save what remains of Rhand's civilization, and to build a better world. If the characters are to have any chance of succeeding in their task, it is vital that they learn about their surroundings, their opponents, and the roots of the problem they face.
This Chapter highlights the world of Rhand,
the peoples involved, their conflicts and history, and the complex, mysterious
situation in which the characters find themselves. What is given here represents
the Operation Team's overall pool of information, from both Swords and
Alpha Team members. Some of the items below are sharp shocks to the Swords;
the full knowledge of the fall of the Seven Worlds, for example, and its
repeated uprisings. For their part, the Alpha Team members will be surprised
to learn that the society of the Seven Worlds was not made up of rebels
and criminals, but of people committed to Humanity's greatest ideals.
None of the material given should be allowed to limit the scope of the game or world. It is intended to serve as a springboard, a framework from which the imaginative process can begin. As the game progresses, the players will develop their own unique and satisfying world; a world shaped by their own imaginations, and fitted to their needs and dreams.
The greatest conflicts centered on control and technology. Space was far too large, and the Corporations too strong, for the Nations to regulate the expansion of the new worlds. The sophisticated technology necessary to travel the stars also lay largely in the hands of the Corporations, and the independence this gave them led to a number of confrontations. These confrontations eventually grew into the First Corporate Wars, a time of chaos during which the great interstellar Corporations battled the forces of nationalism for control of the future. The Nations had a great deal of power and tradition on their side, but the Corporations controlled the economy; with a mixture of force, guile, and compromise, the Corporations triumphed.
The war taught the Corporations a vital lesson. They needed constant expansion and colonization to grow, yet could not lose control of either the people or the technology. All power would have to be centralized if the Corporations were to survive. This led to the formation of the Starguild, a federation of the major Corporations and Nations joined together for mutual protection and to guarantee their power. Only members of the Starguild were allowed access to advanced technology, and their small, elite populace was assured prosperity for generations to come.
To enforce this treaty, and insure that the mandates of the Starguild were met, they created the Imperium. This was initially a figurehead government, with the power to arbitrate Starguild matters and a limited military. Each Starguild member contributed to the Imperial military. It functioned as an interstellar regulating force, whose job was the administration of the new colonies and worlds.
To control the masses the Starcaste system was
imposed, and it has endured to the present time. This caste system separates
Humanity into Starcaste, Landcaste, and Bondsmen, and limits the standing
of all alien races. Each of the castes is hereditary, and it is virtually
impossible to advance in standing.
The Starcaste is made up of the members of the Starguild and their families. As mentioned above, they have complete control of advanced technology. This monopoly ensures their military superiority and guarantees their position.
The Landcaste are the servants of the Starcaste. They lack stardrive, but have control of the military, economic, and political offices of each planetary government. Since the Starcaste does not want to be bothered with anything except its own small population, it leaves the details of running the various planets to an assortment of Landcaste Management firms. These are also hereditary organizations, and were formed from those groups which failed in their bids to control Stardrive and the like, but which had enough that they could not be ignored.
Throughout the Imperium, the Landcaste live in
high style but are subjected to tremendous pressures; the Starcaste demands
the highest of production, but at the same time the Bondsmen are often
on the edge of rebellion as a result of being worked too hard. This puts
the Landcaste in a very difficult position, and they generally cycle between
Starcaste anger and Bondsmen revolt.
As a result of this chaos, all Landcaste firms maintain their own large militaries, composed entirely of Landcaste personnel, and they usually have enough power to dominate the Bondsmen. While their militaries are fairly large, they have no Stardrive with which to threaten) the Starcaste, and their weapons use more primitive technologies.
The Bondsmen are the workers of society. Their ancestors wielded no power during the Corporate Wars, and so their well-being was not considered when the Starguild was formed. As a result, they live in a crowded, highly regulated society, which restricts their activities and deprives them of freedom. Revolt against the tremendous power of the upper classes, although a common occurrence, is futile.
This system might have remained in balance if
the various corporations of the Starguild had been able to cooperate with
one another. But while they were able to establish policies to dominate
the affairs of Landcaste and Bondsmen, they did little to prevent feuds
among Guildmembers. Warfare within the Starguild was common, and with each
new outbreak Imperial power increased. Through the decades, the power of
the Imperium grew, until it was no longer a force composed of Guild members;
it became a separate and powerful entity, one that was hungry for power
and in a position to seize it. It is currently an entirely independent,
self-supporting entity, and wields far more power than any single member
of the Starguild. In recent years, the entire Starguild has begun to fear
Before those fears could be confirmed, though, the Starguild and the Imperium alike encountered a new force, a threat that eclipsed all their previous difficulties. The assault craft of the alien Spectrals, fresh from destroying the empire of the Dragoncrests, first swarmed into Human space ten years ago. Their abilities seemed supernatural, and they were clearly intent on genocide. Against Humanity's greatest threat stood a loose federation of selfish companies and their associates, led by an Imperium which was neither trusted nor admired. One by one, the members of the Starguild abandoned a coordinated defense and fled to their strongholds. One by one, they began to fall before the Spectral onslaught.
After a decade of warfare, the Starguild is badly battered. Dozens of worlds have been invaded by the Spectrals, and more systems are threatened. One of the few that seemed well beyond the range of the Spectral threat was the quiet, backwater world of Rhand, a world that has now joined the list of fallen systems.
The growth of this national identity had been fostered by the planet's rulers, Trident's RMBK division. Trident was a company with vast interests, a senior member of the Starguild and the sole owner of teleporter technology; RMBK was its advanced research and development arm. Trident had deliberately placed RMBK on Rhand, to keep it out of the mainstream and allow it to work in peace. Unfortunately, RMBK's independent spirit had flowered on this backwater world, far from Starguild supervision. By the time of the invasion, RMBK was openly defying Trident's authority, and completely refusing to accept much of the Starguild's long tradition.
Despite the tensions between Trident and RMBK, however, Rhand was still a primary Holding of Trident, and the base of its research and development department. It benefited greatly from this, with the most advanced teleportation system in known space. Through the use of a network of satellites, the Orbital Remote Commuter Access (ORCA) system made any locale on the planet only a moment away. Freed from the burdens of time and distance, Rhand was transformed into a resort and a haven.
When discovered a generation ago, this planet
had been an Earthlike paradise, uninhabited by any sentient life. It was
then colonized by a carefully chosen group of Bondsmen, people talented
enough to turn this fertile paradise into a rich resort, yet mild enough
to be unpretentious. Rhand's resident population existed to serve the tourist
trade and the guests of the Starguild, and in return they were treated
far better than Bondsmen on other Starguild worlds. In fact, Rhand was
the only planet on which the privileged could walk among the Bondsmen in
full safety, with no fear of the people they ruled.
On Rhand there were no starving masses, and no degraded working class which struggled without hope or rest. By spreading the sparse population across the surface of Rhand, a sense of isolation was promoted. The Bondsmen of Rhand had the sort of lives any Bondsmen in the galaxy would envy. They were a people with few complaints, thankful for the good life they led. Those who lived in RMBK communities were especially blessed, for they were accorded privileges unheard of on any other world; decent educations, free time, and even a small voice in public affairs.
Rhand was not a planet without strife, however.
As mentioned above, there was tremendous tension between the Imperium and
Trident/RMBK, for RMBK was using this planet for more than a tourist resort.
RMBK had created several top-security research programs, and refused to
discuss them with either the Imperium or Trident's corporate leaders. Between
the progressive social structure of the planet and these controversial
projects, the Imperium became highly suspicious.
Using its authority to regulate technology and ensure that the mandates of the Starguild were upheld, the Imperium became involved in the affairs of Rhand. This involvement was supported and promoted by corporate Trident, for they had been increasingly upset about the actions of their isolated research department. To thwart Imperial efforts to uncover its secret dealings, RMBK established a large and efficient Law Enforcement Agency. This Agency served as a planetary police force, and proved to be more than a match for the Imperial Law Enforcement units sent to Rhand.
Unable to discover RMBK's real goals through its initial efforts, the Imperium had begun deploying more serious forces. They commenced a military buildup, and sent members of the elite Imperial Secret Service to Rhand. RMBK responded by reinforcing its own military and enlarging the Trident Law Enforcement Agency. A showdown was inevitable. Other Starguild and Landcaste forces on the planet became involved as well, and a clandestine war of espionage raged in the days before the Spectral invasion.
The devastation of the invasion has left few records
of those days. The limited evidence which remains indicates that Trident's
efforts dealt with weapon technology, artificial intelligence, and genetic
engineering. If the Imperium had had proof of any of these points, war
would have ensued; weapon systems were clearly outside the bounds of Trident's
commercial license, while artificial intelligence and genetic engineering
were banned by all conventions of the Starguild.
All the rules of the Starguild, however, along with Trident's commercial license and most of the other trappings of Imperial civilization, were destroyed by the bombs and the virus of the Spectrals. Humanity's past is gone; all that remains is the present, and the hope that there will be a future.
The ORCA teleporting satellite system was then disabled through the use of huge electromagnetic charges, and a thorough, precise campaign of spatial bombardment followed. There were over 600 strikes, which destroyed all key military installations, deep space centers, starfleet facilities, and high-technology industrial centers. How the Spectrals located Humanity's high-tech facilities with such ease is unknown.
The Spectrals also launched a large number of missiles, each of which contained the VISR virus, which permanently alters a person's mind. This virus was dispersed over wide areas, and affected more than 80% of the population. It was a short lived virus; anyone not exposed in the first month was safe. Its effects, however, were anything but short term. The virus permanently altered the DNA of its victims, causing the creation of mind altering chemicals which short circuit the natural inhibitions against murder and violence. The effect is permanent and hereditary. It does not make the host stupid, but leads to a violent, brutal society incapable of higher technology or cooperation.
Wherever the VISR virus hit, the Spectrals also dropped a large supply of simple weaponry, especially the X7MP1 Machine Pistol. This small weapon was designed specifically for killing humans at short range, and was given to the Vissers to speed the reduction of the human population.
While the infected millions rampaged, the Spectrals landed their own Workers and Warriors, along with their Pathfinder leaders, in Rhand's remote regions. These elements have not yet been heard from; they are slowly breeding, and waiting for civilization to fall into barbarism. The Spectrals then intend to take over, as they will be the only group with a common goal and purpose. Humanity, victims of the VISR virus, will consist of small tribes too busy killing each other to recognize the Spectral threat, and will be incapable of cooperating to stop them.
To assist in Rhand's destruction, the Spectrals brought a few subject races; the most prominent is the Slozek, who are superb warriors and were used as light infantry. They are incapable of industry, management, or even agriculture, and require slave races to produce food and tools. As a result, they are a destructive race which can be let loose to conquer, yet will never threaten the eventual Spectral takeover.
Before the full Slozek force had been dropped, however, the Spectral attack craft was destroyed. In addition to disrupting the Slozek landings, the destruction of the craft also eliminated the Spectrals' Command class. This means that the Spectral units on the surface have lost their overall leadership, and will have a very difficult time finding or creating any new leaders.
This only slows their work, however, and does not stop it. The Command class is used only for coordinating among various hives, and given the pathetic nature of human resistance, it seems likely that the Spectrals will triumph whether they have Commanders or not. They still have the Pathfinders to lead them, and while these are less intelligent than true Commanders, they are entirely capable of continuing their work without supervision.
The Spectrals are not in any apparent hurry. Unlike Humanity, they are not concerned with monetary or material wealth, and their plans need not follow any set schedule or deadline. Their goal is to remake Rhand into a fully Spectral planet. To do this, it is necessary that all life on the planet die. Spectrals do not seem satisfied to simply kill, however; it seems that they consume and absorb life, and use it as a source of power. Humanity knows of this aspect of Spectral behavior, but does not fully understand how it works, and has certainly not found any way of combatting it.
The Starcaste were the members of the Starguild, and the rulers of the Imperium. A small, elite class of people, they monopolized all high technology and used this monopoly to secure tremendous wealth and power for themselves. While the vast majority of the people were of the lower classes, it was the Starcaste that dominated society. Most of their energies were consumed in competing and bickering among themselves, and the remainder was used to keep the Landcaste in line. Nearly all of the powerful forces on Rhand at the present are built on what remains of Starcaste groups.
On a personal level, Starcaste Civilians were formerly very finely dressed, in business suits or leisure outfits. Their clothing was all made by the most prestigious designers and was custom fitted and hand sewn, using the best materials available. It was never mass produced, and usually sported complex stitching and pattern work.
This attire has now seen considerable wear and
is showing signs of abuse. The custom tailoring and superb craftsmanship
of this clothing is still apparent, however, although it is generally reserved
for ceremonial occasions. The people of the Starcaste had the best of medical
aid as well. They do not require glasses, as their eyes have been surgically
corrected when necessary. Their teeth are perfectly straight, and body
adornment, such as glistening tattoos, feathers, and scales are fairly
common. Specialized creams were used to inhibit hair growth once a hairstyle
was established, and so the Starcaste still appear fairly well groomed.
They had moderate amounts of excellent quality jewelry, including rings bearing their family crests, and were far more likely to actually own their personal effects than the lower classes, which were mostly forced to rent. Anything they did own was custom tailored to their needs. Much of this property may have been lost, stolen, or bartered in recent months, but it is still likely that they possess more wealth than members of other castes.
Important members of the Starcaste, those with more prestigious positions than others, generally travelled with Bodyguards. They chose their Bodyguards with care, and almost always selected elite Landcaste ex-military personnel. These people are 30 to 45 years old, with high Strength and Agility.
The Bodyguard of a member of the Starcaste enjoyed many advantages, and so these posts were taken by the best of the combat troops in the military. Bodyguards are people who have always been at the top of their field, and have a look of confidence and command. These people were often the heroes of their society, and as such they conferred a kind of prestige upon their employers.
Bodyguards were always well dressed and groomed, and like the Starcaste they had the best medical care and access to grooming creams. Their clothing, while well made, did not have the flair of Starcaste civilian clothing. It was durable and completely functional, and just presentable enough for social settings. This clothing is holding up well under current conditions, and can be readily replaced.
Under their jackets, Bodyguards usually wore Body Armor and an equipment harness for weapons and accessories. Standard Bodyguard equipment includes an FMP8 Machine Pistol, Brass Knuckles, First Aid Kit, and appropriate support equipment, such as a small metal detector, Night Vision Gear, and so forth. An Injection Kit was kept on an arm band, containing up to four syringes of Combat Drugs. Additionally, a small communicator was implanted in one ear and a voice activated microphone implanted in the neck.
Starcaste Law Enforcement
Every member of the Starguild had its own Law Enforcement organization, for maintaining order internally and for corporate espionage and political intrigue. They also monitored the activities of powerful members of the Landcaste. Because of this wide range of duties, Starcaste Law Enforcement agents were well trained in a variety of skills; combat, espionage, and diplomacy all played important parts in their activities.
Law Enforcement personnel had roughly the same equipment as listed for Imperial Law Enforcement Alpha Team members.
Most Starcaste citizens are descended from the powerful businessmen and politicians who created the Starguild system. They tend to devote their time to industry, science, and the arts, and are unlikely to do anything that would endanger their enjoyment of life. Some members of the Starcaste, however, come from families steeped in military tradition; the descendants of the soldiers who actually fought in the Corporate Wars and the other battles that shaped the early days of the Starguild. They were granted Starcaste citizenship, not because of their knowledge or political clout, but because they held the military power.
It has been centuries since that time, but most of the families which provided the very first Starmarines continue to do so. Members of the Starforces are highly respected in Starcaste society, and families which continue the military tradition are revered. Starforce soldiers generally have the same equipment as listed for Trident Starmarine Alpha Team members.
As mentioned earlier the Imperium was involved
in a power struggle with RMBK. A few weeks before the Spectral invasion,
the Imperium had responded to RMBK's refusal to divulge its secrets by
sending the 7th Imperial Guard Strike Battalion, one of the most powerful
forces in known space, to Rhand.
When the invasion came, Imperial forces efficiently and quickly dispersed by Squad to maximize their chances of surviving the anticipated bombardment. Many units used the ORCA to reach remote regions, far from likely ground targets. This dispersion protected them from both the bombardment and infection by the Spectral viral attack. Imperial forces came out of the invasion largely intact, but somewhat scattered.
Following the destruction of the Spectral ship, Imperial forces began to regroup. As this maneuver was completed, the various command units rallied with the Imperial Guard Strike Battalion to lay out plans for an immediate Imperial conquest of Rhand. The Imperium blamed Trident for the sabotage of the deep space tracking system preceding the invasion, and felt the invading spacecraft might even have been a Trident vessel. This analysis was not completely unreasonable, as little information had been gathered concerning the Spectral attack. At the time no Spectral forces had been seen, except for unconfirmed radio reports of alien ground forces operating in the southern hemisphere. The reports from the south were dismissed as part of the overall Trident deception plan. The Imperium was convinced that Trident forces were responsible for the attack, and planned to retaliate.
Shortly after the Imperial command units gathered, they were attacked and almost totally destroyed. A few Imperial troops escaped, but the Imperial command elements were lost. Personnel who escaped have given conflicting and unclear accounts of the brief action. Some claim that they were hit by heavy Power Armor, some say it was unarmored fanatics, while a few swear they saw Spectrals or even Dragoncrests.
The end result of this defeat is the inability of Imperial forces to rally. Their command structure has been shattered and units in the field are now striking out on their own. After two months, many feel no reinforcements are coming and most are looking out for themselves. The strict military code and structure they embraced before the invasion has now generally been discarded, and the Imperial military now resembles common mercenary units. They do not like the idea of rejoining higher command and are using their military training, organization, equipment, and new-found freedom to set themselves up as conquerors of the Apocalypse. A few units are still trying to rally and assemble a cohesive force, but those are in the minority. Until there is again a strong force operating in Rhand which can establish discipline, these units are likely to lead lives of conquest and plunder.
Shortly thereafter the Starguild, fearing growing Imperial power, forced a split between this research and development branch and the Imperium. The split marked the first independent formation of a company within the Starguild in decades, and gave birth to the Trident corporation. Since the split, Trident has become a powerful and independent force. Continuing its policy of advanced research and exploration, Trident research probes were the first to discover Rhand. Since then, Rhand has consumed the majority of Trident's assets, with the entire advanced Research and Development department, known as RMBK, moving to the planet.
Trident had a far larger Starforce on Rhand than seemed necessary for this remote world, and they were clearly the most powerful force on the planet. The military was supported by the efficient Trident Law Enforcement Agency, which was large, well equipped, and highly trained. The ostensible justification for these two forces was the security and safety of the large tourist population. The Imperium knew better, although the purpose of this force and the goals of the research teams were never disclosed.
Trident military and Law Enforcement teams were scattered about Rhand on full alert before the invasion. They were expecting an Imperial show of force, but not an all out alien invasion. Trident's Starfleet was caught completely off guard and destroyed along with the Imperial fleet. Evacuation of Rhand's civilian population was barely underway when the ORCA system was attacked and disabled.
Today, Trident forces are scattered about Rhand trying to regroup with their civilian population. Many feel the Imperium has attacked Rhand, and those unaffected by the viral attack are trying to get back to their homes. Unlike Imperial forces, Trident soldiers had their families here; this was not just another remote field assignment, but a world about which they felt very strongly. Most units find their members splitting off in various directions. Often this has led to conflict over possession of the few Grav and ground vehicles. Tension, breakdown of command, and radioed pleas for help from communities all over Rhand have resulted in a scattering of Trident forces. They are no longer military units, but men and women travelling in groups towards their homes.
Trident Starcaste communities were scattered about Rhand in self-contained complexes. Typical population of these centers was 50 thousand Starcaste and 200 thousand Bondsmen. These communities were hit by the Spectral bombardment and viral attack, and most were consumed in the ensuing violence. Today they are largely abandoned, and their former population is now broken up into roving bands of marauders and refugees seeking food and shelter. A few have managed to overcome the destructive elements following a bloody civil war. Now, badly weakened and running short of supplies, they are trying to turn away marauding bands from other complexes.
Trident's RMBK plant housed the advanced research and development department. It was and remains a complete mystery, as it had been under the tightest of security, and was completely leveled by Spectral bombardment.
Scan communities were isolated enclaves of about 25 thousand Starcaste and 120 thousand Bondsmen. They were not hit by the Spectral bombardment and were able to develop a vaccine against the Spectral viral attack. As a result, Scan has been able to secure most of its Holdings. This has left Scan as the only large, organized group to survive the Apocalypse.
Scan communities specialized in medical services,
and in general did little non-medical manufacturing; they were service
facilities, not production centers. Only three Scan communities had advanced
manufacturing capability. These were the research facilities, and they
were devastated by Spectral bombardment.
While Scan facilities lack mechanical manufacturing capability, they do have sophisticated chemical and drug processing equipment. It was far easier to manufacture and keep medical supplies in controlled storage on Rhand than to produce them elsewhere and transport them here. This is what allowed them to manufacture the vaccine that saved them from the biological attack, and that capability is continuing to play a key role in Scan's new position in the Apocalypse. As long as the equipment holds, Scan can produce medical supplies. These supplies will always be in demand, and represent tremendous power.
Today, Scan is perhaps the single greatest power on Rhand. It has secured its facilities and power links, and uses its dominant medical position as leverage with other groups. To maintain this power, Scan security forces are seeking out lesser Landcaste and Bondsmen Medical Facilities, to either capture or destroy them. Once Scan holds a monopoly on the medical industry, its position will be secured.
Subcons ran small manufacturing and support facilities throughout Rhand, with small communities built up around them. The Subcons were responsible for producing much of Rhand's Starcaste technology, the restricted items that only the Starcaste could handle. There was a very wide variety of these items, ranging from Grav vehicle fuel to high-tech components to Power Generators and Power Relay Systems. As Subcons manufactured items using technology available only to the Starcaste, their plants and communities were under tight security. Most Subcon personnel grew up with this lifestyle, and to them it was natural to live in small communities behind a wall of security. They were protected, isolated, and enjoyed a rich lifestyle.
All this ended with the Spectral invasion. Subcon
communities came under heavy Spectral bombardment. As these communities
were densely packed to minimize their security zones, few civilians survived
the bombardment. Those who did found their world shattered. Today, Subcon
survivors join the ranks of refugees and marauders. Few of their communities
survived the bombardment, and those that did find their ranks torn by Visser
elements, the victims of biological attacks.
Subcon Starforces have largely given up trying to hold their communities. They have broken up into small survival groups and are moving out to find safe haven.
Surrogates are hungry predators, eager for a job. They are opportunistic, independent, and well armed. While members of the Starguild have theoretically been at peace for decades, scores of battles take place each year, one company's forces against another company's Surrogates. That is why there are so many Surrogates currently on Rhand; some had been retained by either the Imperium or Trident, while others had come to the planet in hopes of future employment.
Most Surrogate communities were small, with 4
to 8 thousand Starcaste and no Bondsmen population. The alien Strak and
Varsha served as their domestic work force. Surrogate communities were
mobile and had a Spartan life style. Most civilians were members of the
militia, and almost all were trained with weapons.
In social terms, Surrogates were above the Landcaste, yet not full members of the Starguild. They are an independent and harsh people, accustomed to life as refugees. All the members of a Surrogate community grow up knowing they will have to fight.
Most Surrogate enclaves had no high-tech capability and were spared Spectral bombardment. They were also remotely located and thus most were not affected by the viral attack. Today, their communities are rising from the carnage in good order. They are organized, disciplined, well armed, and have the best manufacturing capability on Rhand.
This manufacturing capability does not include high technology, but they are well equipped to produce mechanical parts and tools. This is because the Surrogates always tried to be as self-sufficient as possible. Although this meant that much of their technology was right out of the 20th century, and kept them primitives in the eyes of the Starguild, it minimized their reliance on the Starguild. To embrace the needs of high technology was to embrace the Starguild, something the Surrogates tried to avoid.
Today, this simple technology gives them an advantage. Their machinery is crude by Starguild standards, but easily repaired. It does not depend on fragile high technology, and long after Starguild machinery has broken down, the Surrogate's equipment will be functioning.
Surrogate groups recognize that they control what might be the last mechanical and tooling capability on Rhand. Knowing that they have only to hold out long enough for the other groups' high-tech equipment to breakdown in order to win in the long run, their clever leaders are keeping a low profile. Right now they cannot stop a well armed Starforce, but the Surrogates believe that in a few years that will have changed, and their forces will be more than a match.
A few of the Surrogate groups were hit by the Spectral viral attack. These groups are now drawing the attentions of Spectral Pathfinders for they are organized, have a strong sense of military tradition, and also have a long-term grudge to settle. Surrogate Visser groups are possibly the greatest destructive element on Rhand today.
Rhand was set up for tourists, and was dotted with resorts. Gambling areas, ski lodges, and spacious beach clubs covered the planet's most beautiful areas. Using Bondsmen to do the work, the Landcaste kept these facilities in an ideal state, unblemished by signs of poverty or industry. The Bondsmen and the industrial areas they lived in were separated from the resorts by hundreds of miles, and every morning the Landcaste herded them to work using the ORCA. Landcaste personnel also oversaw the agencies responsible for power, water, trade, and security. They ran the businesses, kept the Bondsmen in line, and kept their masters, the various Starcaste corporations on Rhand, fairly happy.
The Landcaste lived in their own communities,
separated from both the Bondsmen and the Starcaste. These communities were
completely residential, with no industry or manufacturing areas. Bondsmen
support facilities filled the service roles within these areas, but the
Bondsmen who ran them lived outside.
As was customary in the Starguild, their society was devoted almost entirely to Law Enforcement and the Military. All members of the Landcaste served a mandatory 16 year enlistment, either on active duty or as support personnel. While serving their enlistments, members of the Landcaste were kept on constant tour. Frequently relocated, forever reassigned to new units, they were not allowed family or close relations. Those were viewed as luxuries, and were reserved for retirement. Consequently, Landcaste units are loosely bound groups, made up of people unfamiliar with close friendships, relations, or teamwork. Their enforced life style made most of them shallow, greedy, and self centered.
Law Enforcement or Military service was followed by semi-retirement in management directorships, with the best personnel being given the most prestigious posts. Their military and law enforcement experience uniquely qualified them for these jobs, for often Landcaste Management was more the job of a prison warden than a manager.
On Rhand, this highly military attitude was largely unnecessary; the Bondsmen of Rhand were quiet, disciplined, and easy to deal with, and Trident's production demands were reasonable.
During the invasion, Landcaste communities were spared bombardment, but were hit by the viral attack. Today these communities are largely abandoned, as they have no industry and little food supply. Landcaste survivors have joined the ranks of refugees and marauders. Most are attacking the Bondsmen communities they formerly managed. These Bondsmen communities had industry, food stores, and food processing plants, and are now extremely valuable.
Landcaste military and law enforcement personnel
were widely dispersed before the invasion, and took few casualties. In
the last two months, with the bulk of the bureaucracy lost to the VISR
virus, most have clung together for mutual protection. Having no families
or relations, they have survived as units and are moving to establish shelter
and security. Since they are armed and have military training, they can
easily defeat the refugees and Bondsmen they encounter. However, they completely
lack the cohesion and team spirit necessary to take on a disciplined and
These were the Landcaste's support personnel and managers, and dressed to present an image of competence and capability. Since the invasion, they have generally adopted fatigues and similar functional clothing. The comments above regarding their essentially shallow and self-centered views apply.
Members of Landcaste Law Enforcement were the first line of defense against the Bondsmen, and habitually used violence and fear to maintain order. They rarely encountered serious opposition. When they did, they called on the Military for support. As a result, they are having significant difficulty dealing with the Apocalypse; no one cares about their threats, and there is no worldwide hierarchy to guarantee them support.
Those who were in the Landcaste Military were rarely in combat with other regular troops. Their primary opponents were disorganized, poorly armed Bondsmen rebels, hordes sufficiently large that the Law Enforcement units were unable to deal with them. Standard equipment for a member of the Military included a Combat Suit with at least Level 1 Armor and an Assault Rifle (AR8L), and they did not undertake even the mildest assignments without that gear. With this harsh, heavy-handed view of life as a background, they are fitting into the Apocalypse rather well.
During the invasion, many of Rhand's resorts and tourist facilities were too small to be targeted for Spectral bombardment or viral attack. Many have come through the invasion essentially intact. Complexes whose local time corresponded to business hours when the Spectrals initially attacked and destroyed the ORCA satellites had Bondsmen workers, Landcaste Managers, and Starcaste and Landcaste Tourists there. After the invasion, many of the Bondsmen and Landcaste left the resorts trying to get back to their families, and some groups of Tourists also fled. Conflicts and fighting over ground vehicles at these facilities was common, as various groups tried to get to the nearest Spaceport. The smartest probably stayed behind. They have tried to organize themselves and prepare for the eventual attack by outside elements. Many of these resorts were well stocked and will be the targets of any force which can get to them.
Resorts whose local time was during off hours at the time of the invasion will be populated by off hours workers and a few Tourists. These facilities are currently held by these people, possibly after settling a few internal power struggles. These resorts are prime targets for outside groups seeking food and shelter. Most are well stocked, and because of the off hour crowds, sparsely defended. At many the first signs of cooperation among Bondsmen, Landcaste, and Starcaste is developing. As they become aware of the conditions in the world, they realize the blessings they have and the mutual cooperation they need to hold them.
Not all the Tourists were caught in the large tourist attractions. Others were in small groups camping, enjoying a secluded mountain cabin, or exploring Rhand's virgin wilderness. Now these groups find themselves isolated. Many included Bondsmen guides and workers. Most groups have tried to wait out the Apocalypse, staying put for as long as the food and hope for rescue held. As time has passed and the food has run low, they too have had to strike out and join the thousands seeking food and shelter. At first the Bondsmen's actions in these groups will be governed by the assumption that rescue will come and the status quo will be maintained. As this becomes less likely, they may reevaluate their status and position in the group. Many groups may work out their social problems and come out of this as close teams. Their lives depend on each other, and they have just begun to face the challenges that lay ahead.
On Rhand, conditions were far better. The Bondsmen were generally well treated, and there was even a degree of cooperation among the castes. It helped that the Bondsmen had been specifically selected for this pleasant planet. They were chosen for their intelligence, compassion, industriousness, and complacency. Rhand was to be an ideal resort, and it would not do to have troublesome servants.
As the working class, the Bondsmen dressed in functional clothing. They usually wore fatigues or overalls resembling jumpsuits, which were durable and readily replaceable.
Today, Rhand's Bondsmen are of three basic types; Refugees, Rogues, and Newlords. Refugees are those who have chosen to remain isolated and hidden, trying to survive in small groups and communities. They have no desire for conquest and would be content to simply be left alone. These groups contain armed members, but as they are not militant in nature, their best defense is to remain hidden. They carry their belongings with them as they travel, including extra clothing, food, cooking supplies, and so forth. About 1 /3 of adult Refugees are armed, and almost all are travelling in groups of a few families.
Rogues and Newlords are former Bondsmen who have used their freedom to establish themselves as masters over other Bondsmen or captured Landcaste. The two types are identical in purpose, and differ primarily in organization, with Rogues being less well armed and organized. Rogues typically stake out a territory and its populace, and control the region's resources. Without a sense of unity and organization, they have trouble keeping their groups together and their equipment in good repair.
Newlords are better organized and generally control one or more Power Relay Stations. Commanding power, they exact tribute from the people around them. They offer a good life to those who take up arms in their service, and an almost feudal society is emerging. These are the people who seized the chaos to improve their status in life, and as such they are the most aggressive of the generally mild Rhand Bondsmen. Many of them resent their pasts, and currently dress in the finest available clothing. This is usually ex-Starcaste, but the fit and style are certain to be flawed. It is not uncommon for Newlords to wear excessive amounts of jewelry and other items they feel confer status. Armed Newlords generally carry both a pistol and a rifle; the AP5-8 and AR8L are the most common choices.
These Bondsmen are the survivors of both the Spectral bombardment and the viral attack. The viral attack in particular destroyed most of their communities, with streams of refugees and Visser elements cutting their way out of those centers as the food supply was exhausted. The better organized of these groups struck out to take Rhand's remaining assets of food stores and power stations.
Today, these Newlords and Rogues control much of the countryside, with Refugees scattered in the hills. Visser elements are common and struggle with the Bondsmen. These forces are roughly balanced, with little or no military training, and only a few groups that are highly organized.
As the former Starcaste and Landcaste forces move into these areas, many Bondsmen are again having to surrender to their superior military organization. Some are not going down without a fight, and these conflicts are destroying what little remains of Rhand's advanced technology.
Vissers are drawn from all sectors of human society. Victims include former Imperial troops, Bondsmen, tourists, and virtually every other group on the planet. Fully 80% of the population was infected. Although Vissers have destroyed society, they are not unthinking animals; they are simply people incapable of handling normal social organization.
Within their own ranks, they have a primitive social structure. True, it is untempered by mercy, forethought, or compassion, but they understand the need for teamwork and fear death as much as anyone. Vissers simply cannot handle the strain of dealing with a social setting encompassing a large group. In small groups where each individual knows to fear and respect the others, they know their place and function fairly sociably. But place a Visser in a setting in which he does not know his standing, and there is an immediate struggle for dominance. Often these struggles are bloody, especially if the group is well armed. But once dominance is established, a group can be somewhat stable.
The size of the group tends to be self correcting, since as the group becomes larger it becomes more destructive. If this destruction cannot be vented on an outside element, it is released internally. Thus the size of a band depends on the leader's ability to control his members. A capable leader will keep his forces in line by releasing their destructive energy on outside elements and rewarding his band with the spoils of victory.
Victory can then attract more Visser bands, and this is when Vissers become most dangerous. When disorganized, they are roving, dispersed bands of trouble. Under one banner, they form a tidal wave which can crush anything in its path. Once this wave begins, more and more Visser elements will come to serve the dominant leader. As long as his successes continue, his horde will continue to grow, as additional groups whole-heartedly submit to his leadership. At this point the Visser become fanatics and make dangerous enemies, for they fight with a fixated passion and fury.
The arms, equipment, and attire of Vissers vary widely, depending on their original caste, their recent experiences, and how unstable they are. In general they still have the clothing and equipment they had before the Apocalypse, augmented by whatever they have been able to steal, and modified to suit their personal tastes. Many Vissers adopt a hard, violent style, and chains, spikes, and spare knives are popular Visser accessories.
The Seven Worlds began with a small group of people who had a vision of what the human race could be, and with an almost magical planetary system; one with seven inhabitable worlds. These seven were Vallone, Dietz, Marcel, Triton, Abon-Kar, and the two which were most developed, Alpha and Hryken. The early years of these people are not of concern here. It is enough to say that the society of the Seven Worlds was based on a code of honor, and that it fought courageously to preserve its freedom.
There were two great threats to that freedom; the Starguild Imperium and the Dragoncrests, and though the Imperials were human, the people of the Seven Worlds often felt they had more in common with the aliens. This is because the Starguild was corrupt and oppressive even then, and was obsessed only with increasing its own power and preserving the privileges of the Starcaste, while the Dragoncrests, inhuman as they were, believed in honor.
Beginning in 2170 and continuing for decades, all three powers fought for control of the Seven Worlds system. There were no alliances, only a series of debilitating wars. In 2194, badly weakened by the First Seven Worlds - Dragoncrest War, the Seven Worlds fell to a massed attack by Imperial forces, and Alpha and Hryken were bombarded from space. It was from this period that virtually all the Swords used in Operation Seven Swords were drawn.
For the next 25 years, the Imperium sought to establish itself on the Seven Worlds. Five of the planets were successfully colonized, but Alpha and Hryken remained trouble spots. An organized and very capable rebel underground saw to it that no Imperial was safe on the surface of Hryken, and even launched raids on other Starcaste planets. Several Starcaste Houses were suspected of supporting the rebels and helping to smuggle them off Hryken, and these Houses had their charters voided as a result. Those that were not exterminated were stripped of their holdings and forced into a fringe existence among the Surrogates.
In 2221 conflict between the Starguild and the rebels reached a peak with the destruction of the Imperium's main space station. Pushed too far, the Starguild voted for the complete extermination of Hryken. Before that was done, however, the Dragoncrests reentered the system in force.
The Starguild - Dragoncrest War lasted for almost 30 years. One by one, the Imperial bases were captured by advancing Dragoncrests, and as the Imperium weakened, the Seven Worlds rebels came into the open. In 2251, on distant Earth, the Imperial Technical Research and Development Department made a breakthrough in interstellar transportation. This brought formerly inaccessible planets within reach and changed the economic balance of human space. A system with seven worlds was less valuable than it had been, and this allowed the Imperium to gracefully rationalize its loss of the Seven Worlds. The war ended.
The withdrawal of the Imperium left the Dragoncrests in control of most of the system, and a reborn Seven Worlds government in command of Alpha and Hryken. The Dragoncrests immediately invaded Alpha, and the Second Seven Worlds - Dragoncrest War had begun. For more than 30 years they fought on Alpha, with neither side able to triumph. The people of the Seven Worlds were only able to survive and to rebuild because the Dragoncrests had too much integrity to use space bombardment or attacks on civilians as tools. The result was a war of honor, and during this period the spirit of the Seven Worlds flourished.
The deadlock was broken in 2286 by a Seven Worlds technological development, the Divine Lightning Stardrive. Far smaller than any existing Stardrive, it allowed the Seven Worlds to pit small fighting craft, each piloted by a single member of the Silver Legion, against the far slower battleships of the Dragoncrests. In a little over a year, the Dragoncrests withdrew.
Against the Dragoncrests, a race which believed utterly in honorable combat, the development of Divine Lightning was enough. The Imperium, however, had no such honor, and in 2291 invaded the battered Seven Worlds system in force, seeking vengeance. Imperial victory was swift, although a substantial part of the Seven Legions escaped. Hryken was again ruined, and this time the survivors of the Seven Worlds were relocated on Alpha. The Imperium banned technology from Alpha, and the remnants of the Seven Worlds lived in a dark age. At the same time, the other planets in the system were recolonized by the Imperium.
It was at about this time that the Dragoncrest empire collapsed, and the Starguild entered its Golden Age. Although the reasons for the Dragoncrest collapse were mysterious at the time, it became clear that they had been fighting a long war with the Spectrals, a war which they had finally lost. The Starguild knew nothing of this, however, and began expanding through Dragoncrest space, encountering the races and powers which had remained behind when the Dragoncrests disappeared. Progress was swift but haphazard, with the various members of the Starguild more concerned with competing with each other than developing new areas for Humanity.
On the far side of Dragoncrest space, in the ruins of an empire, in a place where the Spectrals were the new rulers, the rebels who had escaped the fall of the Seven Worlds came to terms with the remaining Dragoncrests. The two groups had long been related in spirit; at last they were united in purpose. Together they drove toward the Seven Worlds system, and in 2337 they invaded. Led by the humans, the Dragoncrests established a foothold on forgotten Alpha and the Third Seven Worlds - Starguild War began.
The people who lived on the other six planets came quickly to the banner of the rebels, but true unity was impossible. Only on Alpha was the true spirit of the Seven Worlds still alive. The inhabitants of the other worlds, though hostile to the Imperium, knew little of what freedom meant, and at heart they were still Starguild colonists. And so the Seven Legions and the Dragoncrests battled the Imperium, while the people of Alpha sought support from people who claimed to be allies, but who cared more for wealth than they did for truth.
The war was soon interrupted by the Spectral invasion of human space. In 2339 the Starguild abandoned its battle for the Seven Worlds to face this new threat, and all contact with the Seven Worlds ended. The last report to come out of the Seven Worlds indicated that the Seven Legions had gathered the people of Alpha, departed the Seven Worlds system with the Dragoncrests, and disappeared.
The worlds of Humanity were in chaos, and the
spirit of the Seven Worlds seemed lost. In 2349, however, the Spectrals
launched their invasion of Rhand, and that spirit was reborn. The earliest
champions of the Seven Worlds, saved and set aside for this time, were
awakened, and Operation Seven Swords was set in motion.
What follows is the timeline for the past two centuries, commencing with the Starguild's search for the Seven Worlds and running to the present.
|2115||Starguild reports of rebel forces operating in the Velt sector confirmed.|
|2116-2139||Starguild espionage and deep recon efforts into the Velt sector intensify. Rebel starforces based in the Velt sector attack Starguild holdings and deep recon vessels. All efforts to locate the base of these rebel forces fail.|
|2140-2165||Seven Worlds - Starguild Border Wars
Starguild homing in on the rebel system, and its location isolated to one of a dozen possible systems. Major commitment of Starfleet to protect deep recon efforts into this region. The first Dragonstar raids are launched by the Seven Worlds, disrupting Starguild organization and production. Early contacts and light conflicts between the Seven Worlds and the Dragoncrests occur at this time. The Seven Worlds first encounters Dragoncrest Power Armor, and develops its own. The first units are fielded in skirmishes against the Dragoncrests in 2161, but none are deployed against the Starguild.
|2166||Location of the Seven Worlds found. Starguild assembles a fleet to conquer the system.|
|2167||Starguild expeditionary fleet into the Seven Worlds destroyed.|
|2168-2170||Starguild rallies to defeat rebel forces on the Seven Worlds, but is worried about alien contact along its borders. Beginning of the Dragoncrest Border Wars.|
|2171-2178||Dragoncrest - Starguild Border Wars
Dragoncrest Border War period, punctuated by Seven Worlds - Starhuild skirmishes. The Starguild builds ip a large force but is unsure which is the greater threat, the Seven Worlds or the Dragoncrest
|2179||First Seven Worlds - Starguild War
Starguild invades the Seven Worlds.
|2180||Starguild ground forces on Getra, a colony along the Starguild - Dragoncrest border, are attacked by Dragoncrest ground forces. The Imperial Guard based there are considered the best troops in known space, but are quickly overrun. This was the Imperium's first contact with Power Armor. Seven Worlds begins deploying Power Armor against the Starguild, especially on Dragonstar raids.|
|2180-2182||Starguild continues attacking the Seven Worlds, but holds its major forces, fearing Dragoncrest attacks along the border. Starguild renegades and rebels throughout known space begin to rally at the Seven Worlds. Desertion among Starguild and Landcaste forces common.|
|2183||Dragoncrests invade the Seven Worlds|
|2185||Starguild attacks on the Seven Worlds prove too costly against both Dragoncrests and rebel forces. Starguild pulls out after bombarding the planet of Alpha.|
|2186||First Seven Worlds - Dragoncrest War|
|2187||Dragoncrests secure Starfleet superiority in the system.|
Dragoncrest ground forces invade Alpha. Seven Worlds forces from Hryken counterattack and establish a landing zone on Alpha.
|2188-2192||First Alpha Campaign
Heavy ground engagements between Dragoncrests and Seven Worlds.
|2193||Second Alpha Campaign
Dragoncrests launch a final attack on Seven Worlds positions, and are repulsed. They abandon Alpha and retire from the Seven Worlds. End of the First Seven Worlds - Dragoncrest War.
|2194||Alpha Rear Guard/Fall of Hryken
Massive attack on the Seven Worlds by Starguild forces. Seven Worlds forces destroyed and the planet of Hryken reduced to rubble.
|2195-2198||Starguild partitions the Seven Worlds|
|2199-2219||Five of the Seven Worlds colonized by the Starguild. Alpha is a penal world; it is used as a training ground for Imperial troops. Hryken rebuilt by Seven Worlds survivors; the populace is armed and rebellious, and Imperial troops fear to walk the planet.|
|2220||Imperial main Spacestation in the Seven Worlds system destroyed, and the Starguild votes to exterminate Hryken. Imperial Spaceartillery Section sent to Seven Worlds for that purpose.|
|2221||Starguild - Dragoncrest War
Massive invasion of the Seven Worlds by Dragoncrest forces. Spaceartillery destroyed by assault, along with most of the Starguild's garrison. All available Starguild forces called to respond to the attack.
|2222-2223||Dragoncrests secure Starfleet superiority. Invade and conquer Triton, the Starguild's main military base.|
|2224||Dragoncrest invade and conquer Vallone.|
|2223-2245||War continues, as the Dragoncrests slowly advance. On Alpha and Hryken, Seven Worlds rebels eliminate the occupying Starguild forces, establish government, and prepare for eventual invasion by either the Starguild or the Dragoncrests. By 2245, the Starguild has no effective forces in the system.|
|2246-2250||Starguild devotes less and less effort to regaining the Seven Worlds.|
|2251||Starguild abandons the Seven Worlds entirely. Seven Worlds forces attempt to negotiate with the Dragoncrests.|
|2252||Second Seven Worlds - Dragoncrest War|
|2253-2285||Dragoncrests invade Alpha, which becomes the center of the war for three decades. Neither side able to triumph.|
|2286-2287||Seven Worlds develops advanced stardrive and shatters Dragoncrest hold on space. Dragoncrests retire from the system.|
|2288-2290||Seven Worlds prepares for inevitable Starguild invasion.|
|2291||Second Seven Worlds - Starguild War
Starguild invades. Seven Worlds Starfleet defeated, but significant elements withdraw from the battle and disappear from known space.
|2292-2294||Starguild reestablishes itself on the Seven Worlds. All Seven Worlds citizens are relocated to Alpha and restricted to medieval technology. Trident corporation is awarded the planet Hryken as its holding.|
|2295-2331||Starguild Golden Age. Dragoncrest Empire has collapsed, and the Starguild advances rapidly through it.|
|2332||Reports of a Starfleet advancing through Dragoncrest space lead to a massing of Starguild forces.|
|2233-2336||Dragoncrests, led by Seven Worlds personnel, again attack Starguild forces, their drive targeted for the Seven Worlds.|
|2337||Third Seven Worlds - Starguild War|
|2339||A new enemy is encountered, attacking along a broad front from within Dragoncrest space. Starguild forces in the new territories are annihilated.|
|2340-2348||Spectral - Starguild War
Battle is waged for dozens of systems all along the border of known space.
|2349||Spectral invasion of Rhand. Starguild contact with Rhand ends.|
This chapter provides an overview of the tools and equipment that have become the necessities of life on Rhand. All the information here is common knowledge, and should be fully available to all players.
Rhand had nine fusion Power Generators, located in sets around the north and south poles. These generators provided the power to run the entire world, and broadcast it to the net of Power Relay Stations. Today two of the generators are nonoperational, three are in Slozek hands, and four are held by the Larden.
The Slozek, in their role as Spectral light infantry, attacked and captured the five south pole generators during the initial invasion, disabling two of the plants in the process. Since the collapse of the Spectral command structure, the Slozek have maintained control of those generators and are seeking technicians and engineers to keep them operational. The three functioning plants picked up those parts of the network which had been served by the two damaged ones, and so the entire southern hemisphere still has power. The four north pole generators, controlled by the Larden, are currently sealed off from the outside world. The Larden are minimizing their contact with humans, but are continuing to supply power to Power Relay Stations.
The Generators are large complexes composed of
a central hub structure, 390 feet in diameter, and ten spokes radiating
outward from it. Each spoke is 2010 feet long and 120 feet wide. Surrounding
this massive spoked wheel is a high wall, inside which lie the smaller
buildings and living quarters of the Larden communities.
The Generators were placed at the poles for two main reasons. First, putting them far from population centers minimized the risks of any contamination in the event of an accident or military strike, and the energies generated in the fusion reactors were not a significant threat to the polar caps. Second, the Larden require considerable heat to survive. They do not relish their role as Power Generator staff, and the polar location ensured that they would be unlikely to attempt to escape.
Power Relay Stations
The power that is generated at the polar Power Generators is dispersed for use through numerous Power Relay Stations. Each Station is capable of receiving broadcast power, as well as sending it to numerous smaller receivers and to other Power Relay Stations. Their large, single tower structures dot the landscape in a chain from their parent Power Generators to outlying regions. Each chain has redundant paths to high use areas, since the failure of an upstream Power Relay Station shuts down all downstream stations.
Whoever controls an operational Power Relay Station
commands power distribution to all who live downstream, as well as anyone
within the immediate 300 miles. The groups holding these stations have
become the Newlords of Rhand's dark age. The closer to the parent Power
Generator, the more valuable the station, for greater tribute is paid by
dependent stations. A barter economy has been established, and those who
control the power control the people. This economy is the subject of the
Power Politics supplement.
Power Receivers vary in size, from small man-portable antennae to large fixed dishes. Receivers all have tamper-proof codes and can pick up power any time they are within 300 miles of an authorized Power Relay Station. 'Authorized' means that the receiver must be registered with the Station. Before the invasion, a Receiver's owner would pay to list his ID code with each station he wanted to access. To ensure profits, great expense was taken to make this coding tamper proof.
Although the medium of exchange is very different, this system continues otherwise unchanged. In order to retain access to a given Power Relay Station, the Receiver's owner must keep the managers of the Station happy, usually through the payments of food or equipment, or in exchange for services. This new economic system has rapidly evolved into a new feudalism.
Receivers are found in three standard sizes; Portable,
Mounted, and Fixed. A Portable unit can power any one piece of General
equipment. A larger Mounted Receiver can power up to ten pieces of General
equipment, or any one piece of Major equipment. The Mounted Receivers are
not man-portable and are usually mounted on vehicles and Major equipment.
Fixed Receivers are mounted on installations and buildings, and their power
capability varies, according to the needs they were designed to fulfill.
In general, a Fixed Receiver is roughly ten times as powerful as a Mounted
Expendable Power Packs
Expendable Power Packs (EPP) are ten pound, single use chemical power generators. Like 20th century batteries, they are handy, easily stored portable energy cells which can be used to recharge equipment. Originally developed for military use, the EPP soon found its way into the civilian market and is quite common on Rhand. They were generally used in remote areas unserviced by Power Relay Stations. These irreplaceable devices are certain to become extremely valuable as time passes, especially in areas where the Power Relay Stations break down, or become inaccessible.
They are one-shot devices; once activated, all
their power must be used without delay. If it is not used, then it is lost.
Each EPP is capable of charging 8 pieces of General Equipment, 30 Lase
power packs, or 3 Battlepack power packs.
Power equipment, tools, and devices have their own rechargeable power packs. These packs provide 96 hours of operation. After 96 hours, they must be recharged from any Power Receiver or EPP, which takes 4 hours.
Consequently, far more of the people of Rhand
are currently armed than would be expected. What follows is a brief summary
of the weapons that are available.
The Landcaste were the planetary monitors of the Starguild, governing its various holdings. Since the Landcaste have been held in check by their masters, the Starcaste, who carefully watch Landcaste weapon technology, the weapons wielded by their troops are similar to 20th century conventional arms. They fire high-efficiency caseless munitions, using technology which has progressed little since 2010.
A few elite Landcaste units, however, were armed with Starcaste weapons. The number of these elites was carefully controlled by the Starcaste, and their equipment was purchased from and serviced by Starcaste representatives. Although the technology of these weapons could have been within the reach of the Landcaste, they never challenged the ban on their manufacture; the Landcaste were not eager to irritate the Starcaste.
Landcaste weapons technology falls into two general
categories; Flechette and Sliverguns, and Assault Rifles.
Flechette and Sliverguns
Flechette and Sliverguns fire small metal darts. These darts are enclosed in a casing called a "sabot" which protects the dart from damage during firing. After leaving the barrel, the sabot falls away, leaving only the dart to continue on. The darts are narrow and dense, giving them excellent penetration. Their effective range, however, is limited, due to the inherent inaccuracy of the ammunition. Manufacturing tolerances and sabot ejection tipoff contribute to this problem.
Flechette guns fire unstabilized darts, and use their aerodynamic form for stability. This sharply limits their accuracy and range. Sliverguns, on the other hand, fire finstabilized darts, which give them truer flight and longer effective range.
Ammunition in these weapons is held head-to-tail in four tubes housed in a magazine which fits along the length of the weapon. A self-contained pressure unit within each magazine feeds the ammunition to the firing mechanism near the butt end. This allows a high ammunition capacity without external protrusion. The magazines are completely sealed before use. Upon loading, the seal is broken and the unit is pressurized. This minimizes contamination and dirt entry into the weapon.
The weapon's firing mechanism has two twin chambers
which function like a revolver. As each chamber passes its load tube, it
is fed a round from the magazine. As it passes the barrel, the round is
The Assault Rifles and Machine Guns of the Landcaste fire conventional spinstabilized ammunition. This type of ammunition, while inexpensive, lacks the inherent penetrating power of the flechette or slivergun. Spun ammunition, on the other hand, is very stable and accurate. It does not require the manufacturing precision of fin-stabilized darts, and at the cost of greater recoil and weight, its performance is comparable to the sliver dart. For these reasons, the AR8L Assault Rifle is the standard Landcaste military weapon. The weapon's magazine and firing mechanism are similar to those of the flechette and sliverguns.
Both types of weapons feature two ammunition types; Standard and Armor Piercing. Standard ammunition for darts and flechettes is made of soft steel, while for Assault Rifles it is very similar to the modern Full Metal Jacket round; a copper jacket surrounding a lead core. Armor Piercing rounds feature tungsten carbide cores.
The Starcaste were the rulers of the Starguild. Made up of the hereditary members of the various consortiums and corporations which comprised the Starguild, the Starcaste based its power on a complete monopoly of high technology. Each corporate member of the Starguild had its own independent military forces, to enforce its will and guarantee the monopoly.
The weapons of the Starcaste were designed to be used by troops in any environment, from zero "g" and vacuum conditions to those of a heavy corrosive atmosphere. As shipping and supply were major factors, most weapons were Lase models. Using rechargeable power packs, Lase weapons saved the high shipping costs associated with expendable munitions. They also did not depend on an atmosphere for projectile stabilization, as flechette and sliverguns did, and did not rely on volatile caseless munitions. (Caseless munitions are dangerous in many environments, because certain atmospheres spontaneously ignite the propellants. This means any leak into the weapon magazine could be disastrous.)
To fill the role of area weapons, Grenade Launchers were developed. These weapons were only available in limited numbers, but could be devastating when used. They were supported by the high firepower of the third type of Starcaste weaponry, the Gauss Gun.
The Starcaste had one other type of weapon. This was the Battlepack, the heavy weapon system used by personnel in Power Armor.
All Starcaste weapons have Advanced Aiming Systems
(AAS). The AAS is an optical and millimeter wave radar sighting system
which provides multi-wave light amplification and radar imaging. Radar
ranging and indirect fire elevation and targeting are also provided. The
effects of the AAS have already been included in the weapon data.
Lase Weapons are powered by a rechargeable power pack stored in the pistol grip. To reload, a fresh power pack is simply exchanged for the spent unit. All Starforce small arms Lase weapons use the same .4 pound power pack, which greatly simplifies supply; only the number of shots which a type of weapon can get from a single power pack changes. Lase Battlepacks and Gauss Machine Gun Battlepacks use larger power packs and cannot use the .4 pound type. Likewise, Battlepack power packs cannot be used by smaller weapons.
Man-portable lase weapons have a limited range, due to losses in atmosphere and limitations in the ability to focus the beam. The large aperture, or muzzle, on each gun is a focusing unit. The larger the diameter of this unit, the greater the range at which the beam can be focused. For practicality, Lase weapons have a 55mm aperture which gives them a range of 100 hexes (200 yards). Larger apertures are heavy, expensive, and easily damaged.
Lase weapons have a number of power settings, rather than ammunition types, which are based on the weapon's Rate of Fire. As the Rate of Fire increases, the penetration of each individual pulse is reduced.
A Lase weapon's Ammunition Capacity gives the
number of full power single shots which can be fired per power pack. Each
burst of automatic fire uses the same power as three single shots. This
is independent of the exact Rate of Fire; a Low Rate burst uses 3 charges,
and so does a High Rate burst.
Explosive weapons are only rarely used within the Starguild. This is because most combat is conducted within the Starguild, and since this year's enemy is likely to be next year's business partner, it is in everyone's interest to keep fatalities to a minimum. There are a few Grenade Launchers, however, for occasions when extreme firepower is required. These weapons are also deployed in the event of massed Bondsmen uprisings, and for use against alien races.
Gauss guns use a magnetic field to accelerate metal darts. These darts are similar to those used by sliverguns, but have no sabot. Gauss guns provide superb penetrating capability, and have better accuracy than sliverguns since they are not penalized by sabot ejection tipoff. Their disadvantages are the heavy power electronics package necessary, and high cost.
Battlepacks are designed for Power Armor infantry and arm their users with a variety of lethal weapon systems. A Battlepack serves as ammunition rack, reloading system, and power supply, and may be reloaded weapon by weapon or replaced as a unit. As a Battlepack uses the suit's target designation system and assumes the user is protected from back blast and recoil, no Battlepack can be used by anyone not in Power Armor.
Battlepack weapons have no triggers, and there are few breaks in their smooth outlines. They are connected directly to the suit's targeting system through a pickup in the pistol grip. All weapon commands are relayed directly through this pickup to the mechanisms within the weapon. This means that the user need never remove his hand from the pistol grip; Starmarines call this "keeping in touch."
The stock is usually a simple rod ending in a ball joint. This joint mates to a socket in the suit's shoulder, providing a firm, stable firing rest. The suit protects the user from the recoil pressure.
The bulky appearance of some of the weapons is
due to armor. This is obviously to protect the weapon from damage; the
Armor Protection Factor is given for all weapons which are armored.
There is one other Starcaste weapon; the DRGN Lase Machine Pistol. It was not a standard military or commercial weapon, and was produced illegally by Trident's renegade RMBK division shortly before the Spectral invasion. RMBK's reasons for producing this weapon are completely unknown; Imperial Law Enforcement was unable to penetrate the secret program, and the RMBK facility was utterly destroyed during the Spectral bombardment.
The Spectrals seem incapable of independent creation. All the weapons brought by the Spectrals are direct copies of Human equipment, except for one; the X7MP1, which surprisingly bears the marks of Dragoncrest manufacture. This small, deadly weapon, featuring a very high rate of fire and explosive bullets, was landed throughout Rhand in areas exposed to the VISR virus. It was designed specifically for unstable humans to use on each other during the crisis of the invasion. It is likely that far more humans have been killed with this weapon, by other humans, than have even seen Spectrals.
Seven Worlds Weapons
The only Seven Worlds weapons known to be on Rhand are the Battlepacks carried by Sword characters equipped with Living Steel Power Armor. These Battlepacks are compatible only with Living Steel Power Armor, and include the Light Flechette Battlepack, the long-ranged and very deadly Rocket Rifle, and the extremely high-powered Lase Cannon.
Living Steel Power Armor also features small weapons and defensive systems called Auxiliary Packs.
Flexible armor is made from a light, bullet resistant material. Since it is fairly comfortable, it is usually worn under normal clothing and is standard dress for off-duty military personnel.
A Combat Suit is a vacuum isolation suit made of Flexible armor. It may include a life support system with air rebreather and thermal control. If the life support system is present, it draws air, water, and power from a small beltpack, which has a standard capacity of 24 hours. For extended use, extra beltpacks can be carried. A beltpack designed for use in lethal atmosphere weighs 7 pounds, while beltpacks for worlds on which breathing air can be filtered from the atmosphere weigh 2 pounds.
A Combat Suit not only protects the user from his environment, it provides autonomous puncture repair and medical aid. When the suit is punctured, it automatically attempts to seal the breach. The chance that it will successfully accomplish this depends on the Damage Class of the injury. If atmospheric integrity is important, then the player should roll a 1 to 10 random number each time his character takes a penetrating hit; if the number rolled is less than the Damage Class of the weapon, then the suit failed to seal. If the character is still conscious he can patch the hole with a sealing unit located in the palm of each hand. Using this unit takes 1 Action, and all that is necessary is to place the unit over the puncture. Chemicals released by the suit in the breach location automatically activate the sealing unit. The system does not work for punctures which cannot be reached.
The Medical Aid system for the Combat Suit is simple and effective. Whenever the suit is punctured and the user's body functions indicate that he has been incapacitated, the suit automatically constricts about all wounds. This limits bleeding and doubles the injured's Critical Time Period. The suit then activates a Homing Beacon and continues to monitor body functions. When the user's body functions indicate impending death, the suit injects him with the drug Oxyspan. This greatly increases the Critical Time Period. At this point, the suit has done all it can. If the user dies before help arrives, it modifies the beacon's signal to let would-be rescuers know that there is no need to hurry.
It should be noted that Landcaste Combat Suits are not vacuum rated and do not have the puncture repair system.
Combat Suits can also be fitted with Armor Panels.
These rigid plates fit over the suit, and come in five standard Levels
of protection. They greatly improve the defenses of the wearer, at the
expense of weight. Armor Panels are worn by virtually any force expecting
to enter combat, although the Level of protection depends on the threat
expected, the Strength of the user, and the doctrine of the particular
DRGN Armor is a Combat Suit of unknown purpose developed by Trident's RMBK division on Rhand. It has all the features of a standard Combat Suit, as well as built-in ice and rock climbing equipment, and it is made of a metallic material whose purpose and origin remain unknown. RMBK's efforts in weapons research were strictly forbidden by the Starguild, and were significant in the high level of tension on the planet shortly before the invasion.
To use Power Armor, the wearer must have surgically implanted reference nodes. These nodes are small metal plates attached to the bone which monitor and control the movement and functions of the suit. The suit supplies the wearer with night vision, acts as a vacuum isolation suit, and can withstand temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods. It can filter breathing air from the atmosphere, but normally draws from its own air tanks. In hand-to-hand combat, the wearer does six times the normal Impact Damage.
Each Power Armor suit has several subsystems.
These are discussed below.
Power Armor runs off a rechargeable power unit which generally contains sufficient power for 24 hours of operation. Recharge may be performed using a Power Receiver, a Grav Vehicle power plant, or a number of Expendable Power Packs. The number of EPP's required to recharge the power unit is given on the Armor Data Table.
The Bicomp is the suit's computer and target designator. It regulates the suit's movement, sensors, equipment, communications, and balance, and passes all significant information to the suit's wearer. In action, the wearer and the Bicomp are a team with the best attributes of both human and computer.
The Bicomp8 is the standard model, and is a state of the art processor. It responds to voice and physical commands and can be programmed to take control of some suit functions if the user is incapacitated. Simple activities, such as activating medical circuits, maintaining communications, and crawling towards safety are possible; other actions, such as aiming and firing, or walking upright, are not part of standard programming. The Bicomp8 is a sophisticated device capable of a great deal, but it does not have its own intelligence.
One section of the Trident/RMBK facility on Rhand
was devoted to the development of a Bicomp with artificial intelligence,
called the Bicomp9. Such research violated all conventions of the Starguild,
and the project was destroyed during the Spectral invasion.
Power Armor contains all the medical aid features of a Combat Suit, in addition to an Auto-Medic Kit and an improved puncture repair system. The improved sealing system allows the user to roll a 1 to 20 number when determining whether the sealing system functions or fails.
The armor also contains 12 injectable drug cartridges.
These injections may either be self-administered or given to others. When
administered to others, a special port in the tip of the index finger is
used. To inject a person wearing Power Armor, the injection must be made
through a special port at the base of the helm, which takes 8 Actions.
Power Armor has replaceable armor panels which mount to an internal structural frame. The frame provides all joints, hydraulic mounts, equipment mounts, and structural strength. The size and strength of the frame depends on the suit's Combat Load and armor weight.
Power Armor comes in a number of models, each designed around a particular frame and to fill a particular role. In the Starguild military there are three primary roles; Heavy, Medium, and Light. Each differs in gross weight and resulting ground pressure, which determines what application it may be used for. Heavy Power Armor is used in ground combat, Medium within buildings and structures, and Light within Starfleet vessels. The Starguild has optimized a specific model for each role, and these models are not interchangeable.
The Seven Worlds did not have the luxury of specific models to fit each combat role. Their Power Armor, called Living Steel, is designed to handle all roles by making its armor panels non-load bearing and easily removable. Unlike Starguild armor panels, which can only be replaced at a repair facility, Living Steel armor panels can be removed, in part or in total, under field conditions and without affecting the suit's functions. Anyone skilled with Living Steel can make the adjustment, although usually repair technicians do the work.
The Bicomp will automatically adjust for changes
in mass loading. The standard Heavy frame can therefore be easily adjusted
to function as either Medium or Light armor in just a few minutes. While
not as efficient as its Starforce counterparts, this ability allows Living
Steel to serve in all types of combat, minimizing personnel needs. This
modular construction also allows for the attachment of special function
panels such as smoke devices, electronics packages, and the like. These
are called Auxiliary Packs.
The suit's motion is powered by two redundant hydraulic systems; either one will provide full function. The two for one redundancy improves reliability and survivability. It also provides the capability for Boost Power, which uses both the hydraulic systems simultaneously rather than one. It consumes twice the power and generates twice the waste heat, but allows the wearer to jump further, accelerate quicker, and produce greater static strength.
Boost Power is limited to short emergency actions,
and can fatigue and damage the suit if used at full Combat Load. In game
terms, this allows someone using Boost Power to perform certain actions
that are beyond the suit's normal limitations. The wearer may jump 40%
further, lift or push with twice as much force, or carry 4 times the normal
Combat Load at low speeds (2 Hexes Per Phase maximum.) Each phase the wearer
attempts to prolong one of these feats, or moves at a higher speed, there
is a 10% chance of significant damage being done to the structure of the
suit. Each time damage occurs, the Action cost for all uses of the limbs)
involved is doubled.
Even with its tremendous offensive capabilities, Power Armor is primarily a defensive system. It was originally designed to protect the wearer from explosive concussion and penetrating damage, and the power necessary to move the armor naturally resulted in greater carrying capacity. This in turn allowed heavier and more lethal weapons to be carried, as well as the wide variety of sophisticated defensive measures built into the armor.
To confuse enemy auto-detection and targeting systems, the outside of a suit of Power Armor has radar damping surfaces and a passive spectrum regulation system. This system controls the reflection of light striking the armor, allowing it to produce any color or pattern of colors desired. This provides a chameleon-like ability and enhances stealth and concealability in any environment. Pattern, color, and shape are controlled by the suit's Bicomp. In noncombat situations, this system is used to display badges of rank, unit logos, and color schemes which take the place of uniforms.
The release of heat is kept to a minimum, and
is directionally emitted from the backpack. This reduces the thermal profile
when viewed from the front. In an emergency, the suit can go to maximum
shutdown, with waste heat stored in a thermal dam. This dam has a one hour
capacity in maximum shutdown mode, and a one minute capacity at normal
operation. After that time, normal thermal emission must be resumed to
prevent overheating. The thermal dam can be emptied by spending one minute
at maximum shutdown with normal thermal emission.
Power Armor contains two sets of visual sensors; a wide angle Bifocal Unit mounted on top of the helm and a tight angle Gun Camera mounted at eye level on the external armor visor.
The Bifocal Unit acts as the eyes of a man in Power Armor when he has his Armor Visor closed. It is a multiwave optical camera and millimeter radar, which provides bifocal optical light amplification as well as radar ranging and imaging. This means that the wearer can see through fog, clouds, and common smoke screens, as well as being able to magnify individual objects as a 40x telescope.
The Armor Visor is an opaque armor plate protecting the eyes. If the Bifocal Unit is destroyed, the Armor Visor must be opened if the wearer desires unrestricted vision. With the Armor Visor open, protection of the Eye-Nose hit location is provided only by a transparent shield with a PF of 10.
Each time a target in Power Armor is hit in the Forehead or Head Glance hit location, there is a 25% chance that the hit strikes the Bifocal Unit. If the Bifocal Unit is hit by a shot whose Penetration is greater than 10, the unit is destroyed. Further penetration is resisted by the suit's normal external armor.
The Gun Camera is mounted outside the Armor Visor and is provided so the user can fire weapons which have no Advanced Aiming System while his Armor Visor is closed. If the Gun Camera is destroyed and the wearer does not open his Armor Visor to aim, he fires such weapons with a Shot Accuracy Modifier of -4. Each time a person in Power Armor is hit in the Eye-Nose hit location there is a 10% chance the Gun Camera is hit. If the shot's Penetration is greater than 10, the Gun Camera is destroyed. Further penetration is resisted by the suit's Armor Visor.
The Armor Visor also includes an external Holographic Display. This display is often used to project the user's face during normal conversation, thereby improving personal communications. This display is controlled by the suit's Bicomp and can be used to display maps and information, diagnostics and schematics, or video imagery. Troops often use it to personalize their armor, although such display violates regulations.
As stated earlier, all Starcaste weapons are equipped with an optical and millimeter wave radar sighting system. These Advanced Aiming Systems (AAS) function much like today's optical scopes, but provide light amplification and radar imaging as well as radar ranging. Power Armor is equipped with a hand grip pickup which hooks it directly to the AAS. The AAS is thus directly connected to the suit's target designator screen, bypassing the external Gun Camera. This allows Power Armor troops to use the weapon-mounted AAS as a remote visual sensor. The AAS provides only a tight angle field of view, but it is useful since the weapon can be stuck around cover for observation and firing without exposing the user.
For unrestricted movement and visibility, all visual sensors must be fully functional. If a character loses his weapon's AAS, he may switch to his Armor Visor's Gun Camera without penalty. If both the AAS and the Gun Camera are out, he may use his Bifocal unit for aiming with a Shot Accuracy Modifier of -4, or open his Armor Visor for unrestricted aim.
If the Bifocal Unit is out, the character may
use his Gun Camera or AAS for limited vision. He can fire his weapon without
penalty, but his movement is limited to 2 Hexes Per Phase and his Field
of View is drastically reduced to a very narrow cone that shows only what
the weapon is aimed at. Opening the Armor Visor frees the wearer of any
Power Armor has both active and passive ground seismic sensors which warn of potentially dangerous footing or structures which will not support the suit's weight. They are located in the feet of the suit and in passive mode can sense the movement of ground vehicles in the distance.
Power Armor has Ultrasonic Sensors which allow the user to navigate in smoke screens. This system is used whenever the standard optical and radar systems are blocked. Its image resolution is coarse, and it cannot pick up objects smaller than six inches in size. When the user is stationary this system can be used as a motion detector. As a motion detector it has a range of 100 hexes and resolution of six inches. This system is located with the Bifocal Unit. If the Bifocal Unit is destroyed, the Ultrasonic Sensors are also destroyed.
The following are a number of Power Armor models
present on Rhand. The majority of these are Starguild models.
Heavy Combat Power Armor (HCPA)
HCPA is the standard Starforce ground combat model. Its gross weight is 900 pounds and is limited by the resulting ground pressure. Heavier models are too heavy for common ground conditions, and the 900 pounds gross weight has become standard. Eighty percent of all Starmarine Power Armor units are armored in HCPA.
Medium Combat Power Armor (MCPA)
MCPA is found in Medium Power Armor units and is used in areas where the footing, whether ground, building, or other structure, will not support the weight of HCPA. MCPA units are used in city and street fighting, and are made up of recruits showing the highest initiative and morale, as these play a key role in close combat.
Light Combat Power Armor (LCPA)
LCPA is Starfleet Power Armor designed for use onboard military starcraft, as HCPA and MCPA are too massive for this role. While Power Armor is in the minority within Starmarine ground forces, the Starfleet infantry which serve in space are currently entirely Power Armor trained and equipped. They are a small and highly trained group of people, and are rarely employed in ground combat.
Slow Cargo Carrier (SCC)
SCC is designed specifically for supporting non-powered infantry. It has a maximum speed sufficient to keep pace with non-powered troops, and a high Combat Load. It is used by Starmarine forces and a few elite Landcaste units to carry ammunition, Battlepacks, and heavy ordinance. Note that troops wearing SCC do not receive the automatic +4 bonus to their Combat Actions that other Power Armor types do.
7SPA Seven Swords Power Armor
Code-named "Living Steel", 7SPA was developed on the Seven Worlds long before the Starguild introduced Power Armor into service. It is based on Dragoncrest Power Armor, and was developed during the Seven Worlds' long wars with the Dragoncrests and the Starguild.
Currently, 7SPA is the ultimate in human Power Armor systems. Its principal weapon is the Seven Swords Battlepack, but a variety of Auxiliary Packs round out its offensive capabilities. The selection of Auxiliary Packs is determined by the user's tastes and style of combat. Dozens of varieties exist.
7SPA can be adapted to three configurations, all of which are derived from the same model. The first has a ground pressure equivalent to Starguild HCPA. The second has an outer layer of armor panels removed, reducing ground pressure to MCPA class, while the third is stripped to its basic frame and has a ground pressure equal to Starguild LCPA. This configuration is used for Starfleet operations.
Soldiers remained in mixed units in the regular military. The provisional assign-ment at this level was simply a tool for officers, making it easier for them to handle their troops. As a soldier's career advanced, however, if an increasing affiliation with one particular Legion was shown, the soldier was reassigned to a unit consisting primarily or entirely of the same personality type. These were the Legionary units, the elite of the Seven Worlds formed into units with a single will and a clearly defined purpose.
The Legions further defined the warriors as either Command Element, called Dragons, or Combat personnel, called Targas. As with Legionary assignments, these roles were based on personality and aptitude. Dragons generally handled infiltration, espionage, and strategy; they were responsible for selecting targets and timing attacks. They then turned over command to the Targas, who led during actual combat situations. The two classes received their codenames from the acronyms of the missions they were primarily used for; TARGA stood for Tactical Assault - Rear Guard Action, and DRAGON stood for Disruption - Reconnaissance -Advisory - Guerilla Operations - Noncombat.
At the peak of the Seven Legions were the Seven Swords. Drawn from the very finest the Seven Legions had to offer, they were the warriors to whom the most critical assignments fell, and also served as the Guard of the leaders of the Seven Worlds. They were not used as units; individual Swords might be placed in command of other units, usually Legionary ones, or a small band of Swords might be sent on a particularly dangerous mission. It is from these units that most of the Swords have been drawn.
To enhance role-playing, players may wish to choose
Legions for their Swords, and use that as a starting point for the character's
Black Legion - "Know Only Battle"
The Black Legion was usually a temporary assignment. Battle fatigue, defeat, or personal loss could cause even the truest warrior to lose his way, and these people were assigned to the Black Legion. It was the Legion for those who were lost or embittered, and Black Legion evaluation generally resulted in immediate transfer to a recuperation facility. The soldiers were then cared for until their evaluations showed them capable of rejoining their units.
Sometimes therapy was of no use, however, and the Black Legion assignment became permanent. These people were encouraged to retire and were accorded full honors and considerable support. Society recognized them as warriors who had sacrificed everything for the freedom of the Seven Worlds, and no effort was spared on their behalf.
Those who chose not to retire made up the active
duty Black Legion. They were people who still believed in all that the
Seven Worlds stood for, yet felt they could never share in it. As a result
they were fierce, uncompromising warriors, careless of their own lives
and utterly dedicated to defeating the enemy, so that others would never
have to suffer as they did. Kept separate from the rest of the military,
the Black Legion was made up of grim, somber people, a band of troubled
souls of great worth.
Red Legion - "Sword's Path: Glory"
Members of the Red Legion sought glory in battle. They requested the most dangerous, foolhardy assignments, and gave little thought to themselves. While this search for glory made them poor strategists and sometimes resulted in high casualties, the members of the Red Legion were the ones who successfully assaulted the most dangerous positions, who intimidated the enemy with their intensity, and whose energy served to revitalize even the most despondent unit. Strike battalions and Heavy Assault troops were traditional Red assignments.
Green Legion - "For the Good of All"
Order was the primary concern for the Green Legion. They were the soldiers who lived and fought 'by the book', and this made even inexperienced Greens fast decision makers and steady people in times of crisis. They also made sure that the rules were obeyed and that everyone was treated fairly. Because of these traits, the Greens were excellent combat NCO's, Drill Instructors, and Military Police, and were largely responsible for the military court.
Blue Legion - "Duty Binds Us All"
The insignia of the Blue Legion perfectly expressed the unit's ideals; three chains pulling in different directions, held together by a single ring. Members of the Blue Legion knew that it was Duty, and personal loyalty, that held together the Seven Worlds, more than any single trait. The Blue Legion was made up of soldiers who were more open-minded than the Greens, and far more concerned with the reasons behind what was done. They put their loyalties in people rather than rules, and in service to a leader they respected Blue Legion soldiers were unswerving in their devotion and complete in their commitment. Blues were often found as guards, NCO's, and junior officers. They were also placed in positions requiring absolute loyalty.
Silver Legion - "For An Honor Greater Than
Those who belonged to the Silver Legion were leaders and champions. They lived by a strict code of Honor, and gladly fought to defend their ideals. Believing that they must be an example to all, they never compromised their own beliefs. This gave them an extraordinary ability to inspire, and yet limited them as well. Their chivalric values and their willingness to sacrifice themselves, while admirable, meant that they were not suited for many leadership positions. Silvers were often found as Captains of Guard units, leading Blue Legion detachments, and in situations which required individual heroism and sacrifice.
Gold Legion - "For the Good of Our People,
We Lend Ourselves To Battle"
Members of the Gold Legion had set aside the personal concerns of the Silver, and focussed themselves on long term goals. Because of this vision, and their commitment to the finest ideals, they were the principle leaders of Seven Worlds forces. Golds advanced quickly through the ranks, both because of their commitment and due to the great respect that other Legions held for them. Honorable, committed, and resourceful, the Golds held most of the positions of leadership and responsibility.
White Legion - "Truth"
The White Legion was both the smallest and the most important of the Seven Legions. It consisted of the very best, the finest warriors and leaders of the Seven Worlds. These were the Kami, people who possessed almost supernatural self-control and focus. Their wisdom and perception, supported by this focus, made them living examples of everything for which the Seven Worlds stood, and ideals of which they spoke were aspired to by all the citizens of the Seven Worlds. Although they were few, they held the very highest positions in the Seven Worlds, and were the most respected figures in or out of the military. Preferring peace to war, and always seeking truth, members of the White Legion were the inspiration and the ideal for the entire Seven Worlds civilization.