I recently decided to run a Cepheus Engine (CE) game set in the Rebellion setting of the Original Traveller Universe (OTU). Charted Space in this setting is vast, spanning over 80,000 worlds (each with at least a name and a Universal World Profile, or UWP, that describes the bare essentials of the system’s physical and political geography).
Charted Space is a but a tiny spec in the larger Milky Way galaxy…
The first thing you do when you run a world in the OTU is pick a sector. A sector is one of the named political division, a square grid of 4×4 subsectors. Each subsector is broken down into a hexagonal grid of 8×10 hexes. Each hex is an area of space 1 parsec across. Of course, not every hex has a system (star or other habitable feature) in it, but let’s say that 1/3 of them do. You’re talking over hundreds of worlds in a sector.
The Third Imperium is 11,000 worlds controlled by the Vilani in a feudal structure of nobility, ruled at the top by Emperor Strephon (in Year 1115). The Imperium controls the area between worlds: travel, trade, and taxes, mainly. They leave most aspects of world governance to the local system.
Verge Sector: a blank page
I picked Verge Sector. It’s in the heart of the Third Imperium territory and it cozies up to a huge empty chunk of space called the Great Rift. Also, I wrote a cyberpunk game called Verge in 2005 and I like the name.
I figured I’d find tons of official published material about Verge Sector, which was first mentioned in 1984 in the GDW Aslan product (by name only) and had its 230-some worlds mapped also in 1984 in Atlas of the Imperium (without names or UWPs).
Boy was I wrong. Apparently, the sector has largely been left alone by the developers. Here’s what’s known, taken from the Traveller Wiki and from various official products:
- It has 220 systems and 232 inhabited worlds on those systems; each system has a name and UWP
- The overall stellar geography: the Great Rift runs through the middle of the sector, so there’s a chunk of inhabited space in the coreward-trailing (upper-right) quadrant, controlled by the Imperium, and another in the rimward-spinward (lower-left) quadrant, controlled by the Aslan. A trail of distantly scattered systems form a bridge or two across the Rift, for ships capable of jump-5 or better.
- Verge Sector is controlled by the Domain of Ilelish and its Archduke, even though it isn’t physically in that Domain. Ilelish itself has a history of rebellion against the Imperium.
- The major races here are Vilani and Solomani and Aslan. There are some smaller populations of Droyne, Suerrat, and Chirpers here.
- In the Rebellion timeline, numerous systems break off from the Imperium and form the Verge Combine.
- It has no known Ancient sites.
That's it. It's almost a blank page.
My next step was to start exploring the sector on Traveller Map, a free internet resource created by the inestimable Joshua Bell. It offers a tool for visually exploring Charted Space in the Traveller Universe, displaying its sectors, subsectors, and star systems in a zoomable map. Clicking on any star system will bring up the UWP and other known system data, including the extensions added by MegaTraveller and Traveller 5 for Importance, Resources, and Culture.
Clicking around the sector and talking to some helpful folks on the official Traveller Discussion Forum, I realized that Verge Sector has some puzzles.
Daddash (C5339AE-9) is a TL-9 low-grav (0.6g) vacuum world with 6 billion people, with a lackluster C-class spaceport. It’s ruled by a charismatic dictator through an extreme police state (law level 15). The wiki page says it doesn’t have the resources to feed itself and has to import everything, but Traveller Map says that it has (level 17) extremely abundant resources, very extensive infrastructure (11), and very high efficiency (+5). All that, and it’s still only Important 1 (Ordinary). It’s on the edge of the Rift and isn’t connected to any jump-1 main routes, so that could hold it back.
Uranion (D4319BD-A) has 5 billion people on a TL-10 low-grav (0.4g) desert vacuum world. As with Daddash, the wiki and Traveller Map disagree about its resources. The map says it has abundant (13) resources, very extensive (11) infrastructure, and very high efficiency (+5). It’s connected to a 29-system jump-1 main. All that, and it’s still only Important 1 (Ordinary).
Iedde, Uranion’s next door neighbor, is the weirdest. It has 90 billion people on a TL-13 planet 3/4ths the size of Earth, and it’s entirely covered by water and has a very thin, tainted atmosphere. Its resources are extremely abundant (level 18!), with comprehensive infrastructure (14), and good efficiency (+2). Its people love other people (13, “Xenophilic”) but it basically has no starport to speak of.
21 systems (including Uranion) — almost 10% — are stamped with the “Puzzle” remark, meaning, “Some aspect of the world (conditions, customs, laws, life forms, climate, economics, or other) is not well or easily understood by typical visitors. The world is a TAS Amber Zone.”
- Beraugaus/Miruu (Verge 2519), B4338BC-C Na Po Ph Pz
- Daddash/Likagemika (Verge 1821), C5339AE-9 Hi Na Po Pz
- Ekin/Likagemika (Verge 1922), C6989AC-A Hi In Pz
- Elbir/Biika (Verge 1811), C5357BD-9 Pz
- Ethessa/Khulikhu (Verge 3224), D5458C9-5 Pa Ph Pi Pz
- Inkha/Nuzuu (Verge 3210), C5769AA-A Hi In Pz
- Kalkar/Khulikhu (Verge 3223), A9C48AC-C Fl Ph Pz
- Khor/Likagemika (Verge 2226), C566751-9 Ag Ri Pz
- Kriskus/Likagemika (Verge 2224), E8C38B9-9 Fl Ph Pz
- Kuma/Mimiuudlika (Verge 2204), D52599B-9 Hi In Pz
- Meesis/Nuzuu (Verge 3102), C6357BA-8 Pz
- Metting/Nuzuu (Verge 3108), D7497AD-6 Pi Pz
- Narkin/Nuzuu (Verge 2710), A555874-B Pa Ph Pz
- Nishapur/Biika (Verge 2114), D10078C-9 Na Va Pi Pz
- Pippin/Miruu (Verge 2919), A6377BB-D Pz
- Sulet/Miruu (Verge 2711), B68499B-C Hi Pr Pz
- Suuthon/Khulikhu (Verge 3024), A43579C-E Pz
- Tlaq/Nuzuu (Verge 2908), B54A9DD-C Hi In Wa Pz
- Uranion/Miruu (Verge 2916), D4319BD-A Hi Na Po Pz
- Yalnob/Mimiuudlika (Verge 2004), C00079B-B As Na Va Pi Pz
- Yetatla/Khuug (Verge 0637), C88A9D8-9 Hi Wa Pr Pz
Look at population on the worlds of Verge Sector. Of 232 worlds, 66 of them have a population less than 10,000. Of those, 40 of them have a population less than 1000! 17 of those have a population less than 100 people. The world of Kar Zhink (D75A100-A) has around 10 people on it.
Some of these worlds are next door to wildly populated worlds. The 30-citizen world of Tulu/Biika (Verge 2020), B99A100-C Lo Wa D — not to be confused with Tulu/Naakhulige (Verge 2637), B310776-C Na Pi — is just a quick 2-parsec jump from Daddash (pop. 6 billion) and Ekin (pop. 4 billion). Tulu has a great B-class starport, lots of water but also enough land to build on, and no government. What stops people on Daddash and Ekin from thinking, “Hey, free land next door”? I guess they’re not very ambitious or something. A puzzle to figure out a solution to.
So Nice They Named Them Twice
There are 26 planets (22%) that share a name with another system in Verge Sector. I am told that this is not a mistake. For example, there are two systems named Arthit’s World, both in the Nuzuu subsector. I can only assume that Arthit, whoever they were, got around. Or got lost. “Hey, I knew it was a world in the Nuzuu subsector with a B-class starport. Close enough, right?”
Can you imagine being a Far Trader merchant in this sector, and someone tells you, “Take me to the Shadun system in the Likagemika subsector of the Verge sector,” and you have to ask, “Which one? The desert world with an Amber warning and run by a self-perpetuating oligarch in the middle of the Great Rift, or the representative democracy water world on the Tiawan Main?” You’d hate to get that one wrong and the Verge Sector gives you 52 chances out of 232 (22%) to deal with the duplicate-name problem.
Next time, I’ll post my solution for Iedde, since it’s the largest world in the sector and maybe the biggest puzzle.
In subsequent posts, I’ll also develop the Verge sector at the top level, looking at politics and events across the entire area.