THAT’S ENOUGH OF THIS SPHEROID PROPAGANDA
ITS TIME TO LEARN ABOUT THE REAL OVERTURE (DOC WITH A MAP HERE: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11hVPIcRiWZcSeAkWTFYXmwyIRd55keoI7mmcR0TAC7E/edit )
The Clans, the Periphery, and the Limits of "Civil Culture"
What’s the Periphery? What isn’t the Periphery? The Periphery is a state of mind. It’s the margins of every map and every highfalutin’ census-taker’s forms. Whenever you have to check the star charts to know where you are because there ain’t signposts, then you’ve crossed over. Wherever things are weird, there’s the Periphery.
Or, if you want something a little more nailed down, the Periphery denotes the areas of the galaxy where the more “civilized” powers do not hold much sway, not only far away from Cradle and it’s Union, but far away from the myriad child-regimes which spawned from our great spaceborne expansion. It is not one area but many, not just one identity but an entire smorgasbord of various cultures, nations, etc.
While the South Periphery is fairly sparsely populated (at least by humanity, but put a pin in that) the North Periphery actually has several societies as advanced as any in Boundless or in the coreward worlds of Deliverance space.
Because they live outside of the “civilized” areas, those in the Periphery are not often bound by the laws or conventions of the rest of the galaxy. Very few people care about Union here, and fewer care about the niceties of post-scarcity culture.
A NOTE ON “CIVIL DUEL CULTURE” and the Periphery: One of the conventions of civilization which are not extended past the boundaries is “Civil Duel Culture” which would govern conflict between lancers, and potentially between other combatants. Civilization demands that pilots avoid killing in mechs, and those who disregard this are proscribed, refused service and resources and denied many of the rights and privileges that make being a Lancer possible. While the metropolitans and the like may think that such things are universal, those on the fringes will tell you what you can do with your rules. You don’t ask what the CDC means when you’re mounting the bloody ruins of a pirate mech on your wall to scare off the rest. You think about scaring the fuck out of those miserable bastards. Likewise, the Powers tend to turn a blind eye to deaths caused to those outside their sphere. These are Acceptable Targets. Killing a pirate mech pilot past the sphere isn’t really “murder”, and it doesn’t usually really mean that you’ve gone afoul of the Culture. As long as there aren’t eyes watching and cameras flashing, it didn’t happen, or it happened and there was much propriety abounding everywhere, you just had to be there. Most of the combatants outside of the sphere find the whole Civil Duel Culture thing beyond ludicrous, and the more violent ones will humiliate and then podkill the “spheroids” on pure principal because they despise the whole charade. The Periphery has its own version of the Culture, however–pilots who have ejected are largely considered off-limits, even by most pirates, and those who ignore this are largely shunned by their peers. The Reavers do not care, of course.
It’s probably a hopeless endeavor to categorize these societies, but for the sake of brevity…
Settlers, Survivalists, and the Clans
Most everyone not owing their allegiance to a nation or pirate kingdom can be lumped into the class of settlers, survivalists, and those making it day by day. But there is a group that is hard to fully separate from them, which often relies upon them to exist.
Unique to the Periphery are the Clans. Clan society’s origins are hard to pinpoint, but most agree that the mythological First Khan probably did exist in the form of disgraced Union bureaucrat Pofistal Buchannan, who Union lost track of after he shot up his own and adjacent offices in a fit of what was described as, in official records, a “fundamental break with reality, accompanied by extemporaneous musical performance and thankfully unsuccessful violence with improvised weapons”. It seems that after he ran screaming out the second story window of his office building that Mr. Buchanan got as far away from civilization as he could, and in his quest found those who mistook his single-minded madness for a kind of revolution against the modern world’s ills.
There are 27 actual clans of various sizes, each comprised of Septs and from then on into families. Clanner society is inherently martial, focused to the point of monomania on combat and its attached glory/honor. One’s place is determined by ones valor and fervor, or by ones raw charisma, and it is not unheard of for Clanners to settle disputes of leadership with songs followed by bareknuckled brawls to the delight of onlookers. Art and poetry, science and learning, all things are bound up in the Clanner need to prove that they are emphatically alive and living every single moment to the fullest. To refuse the call of adventure, to deny the winsome song of life and death is abhorrent to them. They sing their battles into being again and again in the bowels of old-model starships, conjuring up foes long dead and allies remembered, content with knowing that one day they shall be the enemies conjured up from the dead, happy to know that the boisterous clan way of life continues.
They are, in the eyes of the civilized sphere, barbarians. If being labeled a barbarian means they are free from the confining, life-denying laws of others, then that’s okay to the Clans, warring over petty slights and honor and for the hell of it, but most importantly over nominal control of hundreds of isolated worlds and the tribute there from. The homesteaders don’t care which clan collects the scraps they leave out, so long as the fighting doesn’t bother them personally. The Clans war their way through the stars keeping their fighting mostly away from civilians, compelled by honor to avoid dragging others into their conflicts.
Finally, those who violate clan laws (they DO have some) are often punished severely. To do some small grievance is no crime–that can be settled easily, and often peacefully. Damaging others property can be solved similarly, especially if it was accidental. But true crimes can only result in death, exile, or in rare cases by a pledge of bondage to the aggrieved. Cowardice, the murder of tributaries, breaking solemn oaths, acting in a way that shames the larger clan or sept, these things are true crimes.
The Clanners, oddly, despise those who they see as taking life frivolously. A life not remembered in song or story by the one who claimed it in honorable combat is a life forever lost. Modern war, with its potential for slaughter and ruin, is utterly foreign to them. The very idea of something like an orbital bombardment would break the Clanner conception of everything. The idea is heretical beyond belief. The fear of civilization, where one death is a tragedy and many is paperwork, that drove their forefather to the farthest reaches of space still reverberate in them to this day.
(Player note: Lyra Wulfstan is from Clan Wolf, Sept Wulfstan, family Roarke. They were formally stripped of their name and sept when ejected from Clan Wolf unfairly and perhaps by the design of dishonorable rivals, but took on their Sept name as an act of defiance when they settled in a new home. Lyra is actually unaware of this.)
The settlers who arrived in Overture across the vastness of space through the experimental gateways settled as dictated by the placement of those gates. After the first network died, they scattered in every direction, driven by civic strife, open warfare, and other disasters. Unviable worlds that had been kept going by gateway access were abandoned for worlds out of the way that could handle large populations.
The periphery is home to many small nation-states of many different ideologies. Star kingdoms rise and die in decades, built by warriors beyond the ken of most men, and you’ll never hear about it in the news in Boundless. Haggard Republics cling to life along ill-defined trade routes, carrying cargo both mundane and exotic. A few strange radical communities can be found here and there, everything from Theocratic realms with heraldric knights to fascist geno-states, flash cloning the perfect humans in the thousands, ready (they think) to fill the stars.
These states share some things in common. One is that they tend to be unstable, plagued by internal frustrations common to any independent-minded population, and pressured from without by numerous pirates, clanners, and ravenous failed states eager to fuel their decadent societies with blood, slaves, and plunder. Another is that with the chaos inherent to this region of space, the divides between the rich and poor tend to be wildly wide. The poorest man on Hygarra III, on the edge of Overture, is ten times better off than a cattle baron on any of the moons of Midas Prime. Thirdly and lastly, because there was no real central authority guiding the colonization of the periphery, these states are often spaced out, with daunting distances between worlds nominally belonging to the same government.
Pirate Realms and the Reaving Fleets
Pirates are everywhere. They want treasure, fame, freedom. They’re malcontents who can’t adjust to the reasonable demands of society. They are free spirits, or murderous savages. Whatever they are, pirates aren’t hard to imagine. They come in many forms, and the only different thing they have out in the wild wild Periphery is that there are more of them and that they have the space to organize themselves.
It is not uncommon for a pirate in possession of treasure, a sizeable fleet, and a working brain to decide to settle down on an ill-defended world and invest themself in building a nice little kingdom. While some fortify asteroid belts in more secure space, pirates-turned-monarchs are a common occurrence here. Ironically, many of these new potentates are actually rather good at the business of government (it isn’t that far away from being a pirate sometimes). Pirate realms can expand by force, but they also expand by voluntary annexation, with troubled or vulnerable worlds paying tribute and requesting the protection of former pirate fleets in exchange for flying a warlord’s flag.
When we say “pirate king” or Pirate “queen” we should perhaps note that this is very literal. Unlike the minor nations or the larger powers that be, the overall structure of these micro-states is largely feudal, very like the old kingdoms of cradle. Monarchs demand tribute from governors who in turn collect the tithe of a hundred “dukes” or whatever title creative former marauders come up with.
But settled pirates and wandering opportunists aren’t the only harriers of the untamed skies. The Reaving Fleets are a collection of massive armadas who move from system to system, stripping them to the bone, leaving only husks in their wake. Few, if any, have survived the advent of a Reaving Fleet, and those that claim to did not last much longer. Their motives, culture, even the basic facts of “are we sure they’re human?” are just blank spaces in dossiers kept secret in the board rooms of Boundless megacorps. Those in the know in tamed space keep a wary, watchful eye to the galactic north, waiting for the dark days when the Fleets decide to move down in search of new feeding grounds.
Their ships are ramshackle, their mechs are alien in construction and crude in design, and their weapons are shockingly effective. Lancers are advised not to tangle with them if at all possible. If conflict with Reaving scouts is unavoidable, then we suggest annihilating them quickly, before they can make a report and bring the leviathan down on your head.
The Periphery and the Sphere
The Common Front is perhaps the faction with the most in common with the periphery. After all, Kyrie was considered a world of the periphery a few centuries ago! There are cultural connections to many of the peoples out there among the stars, and most of its members could all have said the same. This isn’t to say that the periphery is favorable to the Communards, of course! Some just despise them all the more, and some are ideologically hostile. Still others see the Syndicalist menace as just another empire in a galaxy filled to bursting with imperial ambitions.
Boundless reviled, but also seen as the best trading partner one could have. While the rigidity of the corps does not endear them in the frontier, their lucre and wide array of products do. The minor nations on Boundless’ border have collaborated with their security and relief efforts before, and will most likely do so again. Everyone else? Can take or leave them. Clanners in particular avoid Boundless entirely as if it were taboo. Perhaps it is.
Deliverance strikes cold fear into many hearts across the wild stars. Some say that they are liberators borne on fire, others that they are blind murderers hellbent on genocide, and some suggest that they might be more myth than anything else. In the north periphery, you try to keep your head down if you’re a few gates from Deliverance space, and you wait and see who was right. As a whole, there’s less of a consensus about the movement-cum-empire, but few are excited to meet them face to face.