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Star Ace RPG
An 11-paged Star Ace preview can be downloaded at the end of this page. The following text and illustrations are only a small example.
As far as we know, the Galactic Empire is the largest military, political, and economic force in the galaxy. It covers over 8000 inhabited worlds in almost as many star systems, including the worlds of all PCs and NPCs (except, of course, the Xenophobes). The Emperor holds complete power, and rules through a group of hereditary “highborn” nobles who control all positions of influence. Until recently, the Empire offered its provinces military security, but the Imperial thugs took an arm and a leg in return – the provinces supplied nearly all their resources to the Imperial military machine, and most of their young folks served in the front lines of the Imperial Army as nothing more than laser fodder. The Empire still bleeds its provinces, but the military security it once promised is now threatened – by the mysterious Xenophobes from the galactic core and by those of us in the Star Teams (not to mention those in the Alliance and resistance movements on occupied planets, who help us on the sly).
History of the Empire
Strange as it may seem, the seeds of the Empire were sown on the planet Earth – that same Earth that fought the Empire for nearly 500 years and which is still a hotbed of rebellion against Imperial authority. But Earth is the home planet of the human race, and the Empire is a human institution. No non-human has worn the Imperial crown, nor can any of the few nonhuman nobles expect to rise to the throne. One thing I’ll have to grant humans: they’re a race of survivors. Those on Earth recovered rapidly from the nuclear holocaust of 2054, aided by the ancient Kleibor and Tarsan civilizations who contacted them in 2145. In the six centuries from 2200 to 2800, the aggressive human race spread throughout the inhabitable worlds of almost a tenth of the galaxy. Though they weren’t the oldest (nor by any means the wisest) race in this section of the Milky Way, humans became the dominant race.
Founding and Expansion
Human cultures varied greatly from world to world, and in some cases – maybe because of isolation, war, or economic collapse (who really knows why?) – humans turned back to an almost primitive barbarism, which I suspect is their natural state. That’s what happened on the planet Cairn, where in 2899 a young barbarian named Leo used sword and flame to seize planetwide royal power. Leo’s bloodthirstiness was unusual, even for a human. Soon he caught the attention of some neighboring crassites. Always after the quick money, the Crassites backed Leo with hard cash and high tech, using him as a strongarm man to “convince” nearby worlds that dealing with the crassites on crassite terms was in everyone’s best interest. The arrangement was right up Leo’s alley: he took over six worlds in six years. Then in 2905, he turned on his crassite bosses, wiped them out and sacked their two home planets, then proclaimed himself Leo I, Emperor of the Galaxy. Well, the worlds nearby didn’t take Leo and his eight-world empire all that seriously; most never heard of it, and those who did were right to think that it would take all the brains a hoodlum like Leo could muster simply to keep his worlds in order. But they overlooked Leo’s son. Educated by the finest means crassite wealth could buy, but still a gangster at heart, Young Leo did away with his father in 2910, blaming the murder on a crassite separatist plot and assuming the “Imperial throne.” In a rare show of humor, Young Leo renamed himself Innocent I, and in 2911, began the greatest career of conquest in recorded galactic history. He must have inherited his genius from his mother, but at any rate, Innocent knew what he was doing. He applied high technology equipment and advanced administrative theories to the needs of his barbaric but numerous forces, and increased his empire from eight planets to nearly 7600 star systems in the 64 years of his reign. After his first few military conquests, the rest of these planets simply surrendered. Innocent’s empire was feudal: he granted control of star systems and planets to his relatives, followers and non-human allies, all of whom received titles of nobility. Each overlord ran his provinces much as he wished: all the Empire demanded was loyalty, money, resources, and manpower to continue its conquests.
Empire and Alliance
When Innocent I died in 2974 (peacefully, and of natural causes), a welcome quiet settled over the galaxy. A number of short-lived successors struggled for 85 years to tighten Imperial power in the vast number of conquered systems. Meanwhile, the systems still free from the Empire began a series of long negotiations, more out of terror than anything else. In 3059 some of these systems formed the Federal Alliance, for the sole purpose of preventing further Imperial aggression. Ironically, the Alliance’s strongest supporter and its first and foremost military headquarters was – once again – Earth.
The Four Hundred Years War
Forming this Alliance merely stirred things up again. Under Emperor Leo II (a brilliant general in his own right), the Empire declared war on the Alliance in 3081. You know most of the story of the next four centuries: wars and rumors of wars, the early Imperial victories, all the truces broken by the Empire, and the formation of the Alliance Star Teams. Let’s just say that the tactics of the Star Teams gave the Empire fits until the final Battle of Sol (3480), in which the Alliance main fleet was destroyed by the massed might of the Imperial Navy. Imperial losses, however, were so severe that the Empire couldn’t follow up its victory. In fact, it welcomed the Alliance’s request for an armistice, demanding only control of Earth. Both sides agreed not to interfere in the area of the galaxy called the Wilderness Region, although as usual, the Empire’s word was as worthless as a deed to Tamillan farmland.
The Xenophobic War
Negotiations following the armistice failed to produce a peace treaty. Not only did the Empire gain the Sol system, including Earth, but it soon broke the noninterference agreement and occupied several systems in the Wilderness Region: Sepa Green, Emniyet, and Shamba. Things looked bad for the Alliance; the Empire, with all its resources, could rebuild much faster than the Alliance and would probably attack as soon as it was able. The Alliance was saved by the appearance of the Xenophobes in 3503. We’d never heard of them before, and we still don’t know much about them: they’re not human, and they’re from somewhere near the galactic core. At any rate, they know how to make a strong first impression: they announced their arrival in this section of the galaxy by blowing two entire planets to cosmic dust and attempting to grab three more. Naturally, this caught the attention of the Empire, and with many of their forces dispatched against the Xenophobes, they no longer could carry on a fullscale war against the Alliance. As for the Xenophobes, they’re still a major Imperial headache, but they haven’t bothered the Alliance . . . yet. At any rate, theirs is not what you’d call a mission of mercy.
The Empire Today
Enough of history. I spent some time on Cairn not so long ago. They asked me to leave, for reasons I won’t go into at the moment I’ve been kicked out of better places before, so good riddance! Here’s the lowdown on the way they work things on Cairn, and throughout the Empire. First of all, the current Emperor, Frederick Constantine II, is a complete incompetent – can’t handle the Star Teams, much less the Alliance or the Xenophobes. The court is one big shark tank with each advisor out for himself. Life near the Emperor is dangerous; those who displease him have been known to end up pushing rocks on Tamilla or floating facedown in a swamp on Sepa Green. Beneath the Emperor himself are three roughly equal ruling classes: the heads of the Imperial bureaucracy, the Council of 100, and the Emperor’s direct vassals. It is possible for one person to be a member of all three groups at once. 1. The Imperial bureaucracy has five branches; one individual, appointed by the Emperor, heads each branch: Administration (headed by Duke Metellus) has offices and agents on almost every Imperial planet It handles the daily operation of the Empire and carries out Imperial policy. Revenue (headed by Duke Metellus) is the Imperial tax collecting agency, responsible for raising and guarding Imperial funds. Legal (headed by Count Sillith) is the Imperial court system. All trials are conducted by its appointed judges. These officials can command testimony, inflict torture to obtain information, waive any or all the rights of the accused, and impose penalties, including death. They seem to enjoy all these duties. The legal branch keeps voluminous records and has facilities for almost any type of research related to Imperial law or law enforcement. Imperial Military Forces (headed by Grand Duke Otto IV) includes all regular military forces of the Empire. The head of this branch, the High Admiral/General, reports directly to the Emperor who is Commander-inchief of the Imperial forces. Only the highest and most trusted officials know the exact size of the Imperial Navy and Army (and since the Emperor trusts no one, even those officials aren’t sure), but these forces are certainly enormous. All occupied planets have a garrison, usually numbering several thousand at least, and the navy’s vessels patrol all major space routes. In addition to patrol and occupation forces, there are the main battle fleets of the navy and the assault units of the army. Imperial Command Enforcement (headed by Duke Yanayir) is composed of fanatically loyal elite troops who also function as the Imperial secret police. ICE has priority and authority over other branches when in the field, and answers only to the Emperor. 2. The Council of 100 is an advisory body with no legal authority. However, its members have the right of access to the Emperor; he must agree to see them personally about any grievance or problem they have. The Council advises on Imperial law and policy. Its members include all nobles with the rank of Grand Duke or Duke, and anyone the Emperor feels like appointing: when a member dies or retires, the Emperor simply appoints another to fill out the 100. Duke Metellus is the present President of the Council. 3. Vassals of the Emperor are all who govern planets or star systems. Direct vassals hold their territories by direct grant from the Emperor himself; other vassals hold territories by grant of these direct vassals. For example, Baron Silva is a vassal of Countess Livia, who is a direct vassal of the Emperor. Only direct vassals are of equal rank with Council Members and heads of the bureaucracy, but all vassals have certain privileges: the right to legal authority in all nonImperial affairs in their possessions, the right to tax their planets or systems, and the right to raise personal military forces.
Conditions on Occupied Worlds
Of course, occupied planets differ widely, but the Empire leaves its calling card on all its possessions. The populations are viewed as a resource for the use of both the Empire and the local noble who governs the planet Seizure of property, military drafts, and citizen relocation are common practices on occupied planets. Attitudes toward the Empire vary from system to system, planet to planet, depending on the policies of garrisons and officials. However, most people (and non-humans) in most of the occupied worlds take part willingly in the scramble for fame and fortune, believing the Empire’s lie that “anyone can better himself under our guiding hand.” Planetary economies always benefit the Empire and the nobility, but sometimes enough profits trickle down to allow for a fairly well-to-do middle class. On more advanced worlds, the merchant class does especially well for itself. These people play the Empire’s game – make their money under its “guiding hand” – so they aren’t likely to support the A1liance, much less the Star Teams. Those on the poorer planets live with very few comforts: the struggle to keep those comforts and not to sink to day-by-day survival keeps people busy, so there is little thought of rebellion. Attitudes towards the Alliance and the Star Teams vary, but as a rule the Alliance is seen as an enemy; after all, many folks in the Empire lost several generations of family members in the Four Hundred Years War. We’re considered pirates, terrorists, or (at best) desperados. Face it, there’s some bad publicity out there. Every major city and installation on every occupied planet swarms with the Imperial military in their shiny white armor. In addition, troops of the local overlord patrol everywhere, dressed in anything from the fanciest uniforms to old animal pelts. These two militarygroups serve as the primary means of law enforcement and control. Of course, everyone lives in great dread of the ICE secret police and “special duty” squadrons: their techniques have made them famous. Despite the iron grip of the Imperial hand, resistance movements are quite . . . lively on several occupied planets. The organization, strength and success of these groups vary from planet to planet The resistance may spread anti- Imperial propaganda, spy for the Alliance, furnish information, shelter, or even bases to Star Team members, or maybe even tinker with a few Imperial gadgets, if you catch my meaning. ICE fights the resistance by taking it out on the locals, or by trying to infiltrate the resistance groups. As to what they’ll do when they catch a resistance fighter or a Star Team member . . . well, you’ve seen the wanted posters, and I don’t think you’d care to hear the details.