Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Down on the (industrial) Farm; or company town and Latafundi, all in one !

For the new hellhole, I present another Bizarre UWP: a High tech, industrial high population Poor World......
Nevis B6339DC-C
Originally a hardscrabble colonial outpost, half penal colony, half dumping ground for losers and refugees from the collapse of the OLDCULTURE Empire, Nevis entered the long night in great obscurity and remained there until recontacted early in the third Imperium. Minimally habitable, and possessed of no great natural or artificial resources, Nevis shuddered along with only occasional contact and no known raids. Population –originally estimated to be in the 6-7 range was dropping (estimated 5 at recontact), and the local government had become quite repressive in encouraging austerity and survival at all costs.
Ironically, recontact by scout service encouraged the government to bankrupt the remaining resources and economy in attempting to find a local resource to export. And find it they did. A life form native to an inner, less pleasant planet in the system was transplanted to Nevis, in the hopes of developing a new source of protein. Unfortunately, it failed to completely adapt; and while it grew modestly, it was unable to reproduce, and additionally required intensive culturing to survive. All in all it would have been written off as yet another disaster in the colonies miserable history; except that final studies found that one result of decay after the life forms death was capable of easy processing into , locally referred to as Freem. Attempts to process the product on its native planet failed, and it became clear that the final product was a result of the source life form having initial exposure to its home environment, partial adaptation to Nevis’ ecosystem, and the interaction of native & Terran decay organisms following death; Further, the longer the life form was able to survive on Nevis, the greater the yield of Freem.

The local Government petitioned for, and received partial intervention by the scout service, allowing them to control access to the crucial final steps in the process, and to be able to negotiate export conditions from a position of strength; once deals were signed, and bribes finalized, the Government appealed for limited economic contact with its new partners, and the favored megacorps simultaneously turned the screws for access from the other side. *
The subsequent development of the processing industry was to either save the planet or doom it, depending on which side of the fence you lived on.
The need to produce the life forms on their native planet and then gather and safely move them to Nevis for secondary habituation (and eventually processing) pulled in significant off planet capital, and resulted in a boom to Nevis’ previously rudimentary space capacity. Off planet corporations involved in shoved money into the main city, and generously padded the accounts of the local government and the few wealthy native industrialists Rapidly a huge infrastructure was built on Nevis, absolutely dedicated to the management and production of Freem.

Money and technology rapidly became available, and the only remaining bottleneck was population – the husbandry required on Nevis was highly manpower intensive, and absolutely crucial. Accordingly, as time passed and the credits rolled in, the government moved most of the agricultural and industrial population to producing Freem, and simply purchased the needed food and goods from off planet. Additional labor was obtained by the same means that Nevis was originally settled by, as well as the reintroduction locally of the concept of immigration indentures.
Today, the system is a monument (of sorts) to the company town system of industry and a monoculture economy; almost no-one living in the system is uninvolved with the Freem trade, and the vast bulk of the population is little more than subsistence labor, generally hideously indebted to the government. It also should be noted that most of the rank and file suffer from the addictive nature of Freem, and would have significant problems leaving the system.

Thus, life on Nevis can only be said to have improved for the worse; there have been several investigations of reports of outright slavery on the planet, but the government and corporations involved have always been able to just skirt Imperial intervention. There have also been attempts to “export” the source of Freem, but all have failed – as a result, the “customs” patrol in the Nevis system is extremely large, tough and hard-bitten. Similarly, with a huge mass of workers to manage, the police militia is also large, well equipped, and almost entirely composed of off planet advisors. The government is still completely native, but almost all administrative and management positions in the “Nevis General Freem Corporation” (NGFC) are off world employees of the guest megacorps. The government has not changed except thru death or petty internal intrigues**, and is still highly controlling and repressive, and completely self-perpetuating. Indeed, the governing class is essentially hereditary, and, for all intents and purposes, a ruling caste.

* It should be noted that the “Freem Scandal” as the wholesale manipulation of the ISS contact regulations came to be known, did result in a complete revision of contact and interdiction procedures, as well as not a few retirements in the Scout Administration.

**for instance, the vice minister of economic development being fired and his responsibilities divided up between the Ag department and the department of trade; not exactly a tanks-in-the-town-square type of coup.


In the case of Nevis, the opportunity for mildly sociopathic adventurers should abound. Being hired as security team for NGFC can be lucrative for a game emphasizing mercenary contracts, either as cadre or basic security; or, for really mean GMs, as boots on the ground anti-insurgent forces; or hunting down illicit smuggler run farms (think pot farms in Mendicino in the 1980’s.

The system patrols are also an interesting source of employment – if the players have a ship with more than average weapons and/or sensors or engines (gee. Players with an upgunned hotrod. What are the odds of that ?) they can become part of the anti-piracy and smuggling patrols; again, to throw a bit of Moral quandary, perhaps the smuggler is not trying to get cut rate Freem products, but rather to get people off the planet.

Other possibilities are obvious also: they are the smugglers of pirates, or, perhaps, a Merc Cadre down on its luck that is hired by the insurgents to give them a chance; of just a rescue operation for off planet family who has lost people to the plantations.

Run a harmless mission to the capital as a courier; be contacted by anoff-planet executive who is looking for his son, who may or may not have broken a local law, or is reported as “captured or killed by insurgents”; and yet, there is a note that claims to be from him smuggled out of a plantation where he is enslaved……or is it a false flag action to wreck the executives career ?

Finally, consider that a mildly benevolent empire may well be looking for proof of servitude or other abuses, particularly by off-planet interests…….

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