By Gregg Giles
In adopting the new sourcebook format, the information which will be supplied in each subsequent issue of the Security Leak Magazine will be arranged in a similar fashion to an encyclopedia. The data is presented, and can then be used in any way by the Referee in an adventure or campaign.
In this issue, our feature is on “The Gods of War” – the forces which seem to keep the universe in an endless saga of warfare. Te terms and information have been compiled and applied in a manger which the average Traveller player should easily understand and be able to apply them to the present atmosphere of Traveller.
The Gods of War
It is not startling to hear about a war. Since the beginning of time, mankind and other races have always fought for control of one thing or another, be it property, goods, or even a holy cause. Whatever the purpose, and wherever the arena, war has always been with intelligent life, and will almost likely always be with it.
The new scenarios of MegaTraveller are no different from any time in the past. In this new age (often referred to as the “Rebellion”, or simply as the new “Civil War”), various factions have taken up arms with and against one another. All eyes seem to lie upon the faltering Third Imperium, yet the actual war takes place across thousands of parsecs. From the Solomani Rim, to the Antares Nebula, to the Vargr Extents, peace has been shattered.
Initially it seemed that the war would be fast. Most loyal Imperial citizens expected Emperor Lucan to gather the Imperial fleets and smash Dulinor and his power base. But that never happened. Dulinor’s support was grossly underestimated, and the war raged for months, and then years. The sides have begun to weaken, and the only true benefactors appear to be the Solomani.
However, viewing the entire conflict as a glorious battle being waged by an unlimited supply of soldiers and fleets is an idea as faulty as the thought that Dulinor could be defeated in several weeks. More is involved in “The Rebellion” than just fleets and armies…
Unlike many wars in the past, the Rebellion involves all sophonts of the known universe. Only a few fortunate sectors have managed to escape the destruction of the spreading Imperial civil war, and those that have seen no physical damage are feeling its awesome economic impact. Who would have thought than an empire of 11,000 worlds could be crushed in four shots? Obviously, no one did. Not even Dulinor.
The war has gone home – to all homeworlds. The traditional fight between organized armies and naval units has quickly dissolved into organized chaos. The Imperial Naval Service (INS) had in 1104 stated that the Imperium could fight a strategic war throughout several adjacent sectors and have fresh and trained reserve units to last almost indefinitely. But that report clearly assumed that there was no civil war being fought at the same time. Successions, desertions, and early battles took 40-50% of all Imperial regular units. Within one year, the Imperium had committed most of its class ‘B’ units. Class ‘C’ reserves were made up of the old and the untrained.
In addition, the vast star-faring fleets of decades before were consumed by the thousands of ships in the first years of the war. The fighting left the starlanes and came closer home to the worlds.
Homeworld factions such as terrorist groups, secret societies, and rebels soon began to take advantage of the confusion and vulnerability of the governments. Mercenary units found constant employment as governments and corporations became desperate for protection. Assassins and bounty hunters sought out political and military targets. Sabotage rose. Espionage raged. People began to lose hope for peace.
The existence of mercenary units is nothing new. Such groups for hire stretch far back into history, and have often become an easy and effective alternate force to use instead of raising and maintaining an army. Typically, the most common hirers of these units are small governments, large corporations, and the wealthy. However, during the Rebellion, mercenary units have come close to being exclusively governmentally hired.
Many paramilitary units have often become license planetary or national militias. In some cases, units were forcefully mobilized by governments and integrated into regular military forces. Archduke Norris made occasional use of this absolute power.
Large business and merchant firms (especially the splintered megacorporations) which were stripped of any real security services were quick to hire units and supply them with nearly any weaponry or equipment needed to protect the firm’s assets. It has been rumored that corporate regions severed from the main body of the business have armed mercenary starships with nuclear weapons. However, most paramilitary forces hired by firms are under the immediate authority of the regional manager, and are strictly controlled. For a government to supply such units with nuclear weapons of any form is not only a blatant violation of the very laws of the unwritten Imperial “Rules of War”, but it is also a violation of the very laws of the establishment which are being defended.
The typical response of any mercenary soldier to the question of where strength comes from would almost naturally be “from numbers”. However, the battles of the Rebellion have unquestionably proven that strength no only lies in numbers, but in technology as well. As an increasing number of starships are lost as casualties, the remaining ships are being forced to become more potent. The same rule also applies to ground forces. The gauss gun, which was previously accepted as the ideal infantry support weapon for a squad of men, has given way to the FGMP. Before 1116, the average mercenary unit could hope to have around 100 personnel. Between 1116 and 1125, that number quickly exploded to 1,400. What happened?
Most units began to swell their ranks from the common citizens – those who had nowhere left to run. Many refused to trust one side or the other, and decided to take matters into their own hands. Within these units, members find security, purpose, camaraderie, and pay. Eccentrics often enter for the combat and ‘thrill’.
Some units have found immense profit in the wars, but only a handful. Deserted facilities have been known to produce repairable starships, weapons and equipment caches, and even rare materials and precious metals that can be sold in the black markets. It is not uncommon for units to resort to piracy, smuggling, and other illegal (yet highly profitable) endeavors.
Not all paramilitary units remain stable, however. Occasionally, factions inside of a unit will become dissatisfied with the current leadership and conduct a coup d’e tat. Such coups may fail, leaving the unit without a clear leader – nearly all such groups will soon after disband. Enterprising commanders may take advantage of fragile governments that hired them by overthrowing them. Whole nations and even worlds have fallen into the hands of these juntas, and went untouched by the too-far distant Imperium. Generally, though, loyal government forces will attempt to regain control, or another junta may try to oust the controlling junta.
Often called ‘The Game’ by its so called ‘players’, espionage is the oldest means of gathering information from enemy nations, and at times, even from friendly nations. Espionage in itself is an activity which spies and agents are used by one group or nation to gather military, economic, or political secrets. The group then uses this information in order to gain an advantage over their opponents.
Even espionage is nothing new to the Rebellion. In fact, espionage is on the rise at a level never before known. A dozen major empires and nations are presently attempting to defeat each other, and any means that can help their efforts are utilized. Espionage is such a tool, and also a weapon.
The most important activity of espionage is “gathering”. Gathering is what agents do “in the field” when they collect data and secrets. Rarely will agents process or assimilate data that they have gathered. It is not uncommon for an agent to obtain data that he doesn’t understand the implications of. For this reason, agents are controlled from their headquarters through a “controller”.
Assassins and Bounty Hunters
Aside from the familiar mercenary groups, there are also individuals and small secretive rings that seek their own fortunes and purposes. Assassins typically kill for pay. However, assassinations are often politically inspired, as in the case of Emperor Strephon by Archduke Dulinor of Ilelish, and also the murder of Clean the Mad by Porfiria in 245. Assassins who work professionally can be extremely expensive to hire, if they can be found, that is. On occasion, governments or government leaders will gain the services of an assassin to get rid of political opponents who may threaten the well being of a government (Cleon the Mad) or for the sake of one’s own ascendance (Dulinor).
Assassins which work alone (simply called “loners”) are typically well armed, and have obtained a dangerous expertise in their line of work. When supported by the wealthy or political figures, all of the power which can be brought to bear may be extended to the assassin. Supposedly, Imperial emperors have maintained their own ring of assassin called the “Black Cards”. These assassins work exclusively for the emperor with no intermediaries. Victims of the Black Cards are typically left on the steps of a capital building with a jet-black synthetic card on their chest. The authorization cards which the assassins carry (not the “victim cards”) bear the official sanction of the reigning emperor (essentially an Imperial Edict) and also carries the Imperial seal. All of this information, including the seal, is optically encrypted into the card and can only be read by specialized equipment of Imperial agents.
Bounty hunters are similar to assassins, except that they are often hired to return their targets alive to the hirer or to another party. Most “bounties” prefer to work alone, and are also typically well armed. Some renowned bounties (some of which even advertise) maintain their own specially equipped starships from which they live and operate, allowing mobility of their arsenal from world to world if necessary.
All too-well known to humaniti is the terrorist, who operates under the belief that spreading fear through the general populace will allow them to gain cessions from governments and societies. The terrorist ideologies have for hundreds of years been misunderstood. Most believe that terrorists are crazed psychopaths with weapons. However, as the ages have passed, societies have become more familiar with the real intentions of these fanatics. Nations and civilizations have always fought wars with armies and navies. Since the average terrorist organization can only afford small and portable arms, they are forced to wage their wars with what they can afford to purchase (usually explosives and hand- held weapons). But another powerful weapon of terrorism is fear. Humans in particular have an incredibly low threshold for withstanding pain and suffering, especially civilians who are totally unprepared for responding to violence. Terrorists realize that this fear of injury can be used to their advantage. Theory states that when the innocent are harmed, the strong must come to terms and meet and demands to ensure the safety of the innocent. And it works. But only when the strong give in.
Terrorism is indigenous to Terra, and Terra alone. The same world that was born of war, lives with war, and will die by war spawned yet another threat to an emerging race. Sometimes called the “Reign of War”, the span of several thousand years between –2000 BC to the 21st Century AD, saw hundreds of human factions waging war against one another. Terrorism evolved from this age. It is a war which any person can wage – and that is what makes it so horrible. Any man can kill. Terrorists also use hostages as security in order to achieve their objectives. The bloodiest terrorism is waged as part of a “Jihad”, or Holy War.
Although it has taken many years to understand, and effective countermeasure to terrorism has been established: tolerate nothing where lives are concerned. The Imperium is forceful with this doctrine, and such is evident by the vast number of shock troops based at starports and various facilities throughout the Imperium.
Although a small percentage of terrorists are mentally deranged, the overwhelming majority fights for understandable political purposes. Whether these ideas are “valid”, however, depends upon the ideologies of the factions involved. Strangely enough, most terrorists are also human – nearly 85%. Only 10% are Vargr, 3% are Aslan, and the remaining 2% are of other races.
With the inception of the Rebellion, the number of terrorist organizations tracked by the Interworld Division of Enforcement Services (IDES, a branch of the Imperial Ministry of Justice) has tripled as thousands of factions of the broken Imperium are taking advantage of the current turmoil. Since the jurisdiction of the MOJ has shrunk, the number of new terrorists might have grown as much as seven times.