This is the first session of my Traveller campaign. This campaign will be a bit non-linear from a timeline standpoint. We will be jumping around the history of the Official Traveller Universe to hit some of the high points. Some time periods will only see a few sessions of play, others may see extended sandbox games. There are a few eras of play that we will return to as large, dramatic events unfold. The first section of the campaign takes place at the dawn of the Megatraveller era. We will primarily be using the Cepheus Engine as our rule set.
The players are playing important nobles in the Third Imperium. They have been summoned by Emperor Strephon to Capital for the Council of Archdukes. The emperor, who has pursued a policy of liberalization throughout his reign, plans to discuss his next slate of reforms. The Imperium is roughly divided into five domains ruled by archdukes. Four of the five players are playing archdukes, the fifth is playing a very important sector duchess.
Adair of Sol, Archduke (1064-present): The archduchy was formed following the Solomani Rim War when Emperor Gavin promoted Baroness Ariel Adair in 1003. Archduchess Adair was promoted as a result of her service as the Grand Admiral of the Rim during the War. The current archduke, Kieran Adair, is her great-grandson. Despite ruling the Solomani Rim, the Adair family is thoroughly imperial and originates in the Old Expanses. They are an occupying power, not a native one. Adair broke with the long-standing tradition of joining the Imperial Navy and served in the Diplomatic Corps instead. During his service he often dealt with the Solomani Confederation and, by the time he inherited the title from his father in 1102, he was an expert in Solomani ideology. Perhaps because of his background in diplomacy, Archduke Adair is considered very liberal by his peers. He is a great supporter of Emperor Strephon’s reforms and theory that power should be less centralized. He moved his domain capital to Muan Gwi, declaring that with the move he would be performing duties of sector duke for the Solomani Rim sector as well. While he hopes that being closer to the more contentious areas of his domain will allow him to step back from an occupation posture, he may have made a powerful enemy by forcing Duke Beaudoin to abdicate.
Brzk, Archduke (1066-present): Ruler of the Domain of Antares, Bzrk, a Vargr, is the sole non-human Archduke in the Imperium. He was educated in the Antares Branch of the Naval Academy and served as a master pilot. He inherited the archduchy in 1100. His great (to the eighth) grandfather was a key ally to Arbellatra in the final stages of the Civil War. He is known as a vocal advocate for pan-sophont rights. He has not made many public statements for, or against, the emperor’s liberalization efforts.
Ishuggi Tauribi of Vland, Archduke(1042-present): The Tauribi family claims to trace its lineage back to the emperors of the First Imperium. If true, this would give them a claim to nobility over 3,000 years old. While the Tauribis are a thoroughly Vilani family, Ishuggi’s father preferred to live on Capital at the center of power and intrigue. Because of this, Ishuggi spent little time on Vland in his youth and even attended the Karbiili School. He returned to Vland for his graduate studies, getting a doctorate in political science from Kaarike University, and joined the faculty there after graduation. He inherited his title in 1073 with the death of his father. Unlike his father, Ishuggi chose to live on Vland and rarely visits Capital. While the Vilani tend to think of him as a moderate, and whisper that he was exposed to too many outside ideas on Capital as a child, he is a Vilani through and through and still considered conservative by his peers. While he does not object to the reforms that the emperor has put in place in recent years, he often insists on studies that will take years before supporting changes.
Margaret of Delphi, Duchess (1081-present): The Duchy of Anaxias, in the Delphi Sector, was created in 1033 by Emperor Paulo III. The emperor awarded this position to his brother, Prince Asan, in order to remove him from the imperial court. Margaret inherited her title, Duchess of Delphi, in 1099 when her grandfather and mother both died of natural causes in a short period of time. Her elder sister, Triana refused the title and it transferred to the nineteen-year-old Margaret. In 1102, her father died making her Duchess of Anaxias as well. Despite her duties as a duchess, she managed to finish her education with a degree in economics. She married Count Blaine Tukera, whose family owns Tukera Lines, forming a powerful union. She is one of the most highly respected nobles in the Imperium and is recognized for her economic talents and rationality. She has focused on transportation development and opening trade routes. She is fourth in line for the throne, and thus unlikely to inherit.
Tranian Minomoru of Gateway, Archduke (1084-present): Tranian’s father, Brandon, was the first Minomoru to hold the title of archduke. He was promoted in 1076 when the former archduke was deposed. While he spent his time on Annapabar, he sent Tranian to be educated on Capital. He attended the Karbiili School and the University of Sylea, becoming close with Lucan, Varian, and Ciencia. After finishing his degree in law, Tranian stayed on Capital, becoming heavily involved in the Moot, until his father’s death in 1112. He returned to Gateway for the transition but has once again made his home on Capital since 1114. Tranian’s concern with honor and tradition is appreciated by his fellow nobles and they have elected him Speaker of the Moot. While he appreciates the emperor’s recent reforms, he is not one to push for radical changes to tradition. He encourages the emperor to invest more resources into developing psychohistory.
The session starts with the characters gathered in the throne room for the opening of the Council of Archdukes. The emperor introduced each of the archdukes including the NPC Archduke Dulinor, to the assembled nobles of the Imperial Moot.
Dulinor Ilethian of Ilelish, Archduke(1066-present): Also known as Dulinor the Black due to the clothing he wears. Dulinor was elevated to the position of archduke by Strephon in 1104 following the death of his father. He has positioned himself as a reformer. He has pushed for liberalization of the imperial system and the transfer of power from a central authority to the archdukes. He has broad support in his domain as it trades on many of the historical grievances that the people of Ilelish have with the empire. The emperor is sympathetic to many of Dulinor’s demands and shares a view that the Imperium has grown rigid and calcified. The reality of ruling the entire Imperium has meant that Strephon has not implemented these changes as fast as Dulinor would like.
The emperor then introduced Duchess Margaret. While Margaret is only a sector duchess whose holdings fall in Archduke Tranian’s domain, she is the emperor’s cousin, and the location of her sector means that she operates with a high level of autonomy.
Finally, the emperor welcomed Ambassador Yerlaruwo, the representative of the Aslan Hierate. Improving relations with the Aslan is one of the emperor’s most important policy goals. Continued peace of that border allows resources to be freed up for use elsewhere in the Imperium.
Each day of the Council of Archdukes one archduke is responsible for providing an honor guard. This archduke is considered personally responsible for the emperor’s security for that day. This is an ancient tradition and is a key symbol of the trust between the archdukes and the emperor. Only the archdukes, each of whom carries a ceremonial revolver, and the honor guard are allowed to be armed in the emperor’s presence. Archduke Ishuggi is responsible for providing the honor guard on the first day.
A reception in the Imperial Park below the palace followed the opening ceremonies. The Grand Palace of Arbellatra itself is a kilometer in diameter sphere that floats above the surface of Capital. While there are impressive gardens in the palace, the Imperial Park is ancient and steeped in tradition. The reception is intended to give the archdukes, and other luminaries, to meet informally, and off the record, away from the Moot.
Archduke Tranian approached Grand Princess Ciencia Iphegenia to discuss her priorities for the Council. Ciencia is no idle princess, she has a doctorate in science and is heavily involved in imperial policy decisions. She explained her desire to see the Imperial Scout Service prioritized in the budget. She told Tranian that she felt that the current method of surveying the Imperium was too slow and information was out of date before the survey was even started. She expressed concern that the government did not actually know much about many of the worlds under its rule.
Archduke Adair approached the twin princes, Varian and Lucan. The princes are the children of Strephon’s sister Lydia and are second and third in line for the throne respectively. Unlike Ciencia, they have shown little interest in affairs of state, spending more time on tabloid covers than on their duties. As he drew close, Adair could see that the princes were arguing with a young woman. He recognized her as Elia, a commoner often seen tabloid pictures on Prince Lucan’s arm. Deciding to offer her a chance to escape, Adair threw one arm around each prince and began asking them about their plans for the future. Lucan seemed insulted that the archduke would dare question a prince on such a subject, but Varian did engage Adair in a brief conversation about his plans. Adair was disappointed to find out that neither prince seemed to have a real plan to better themselves, and that Varian had no plan beyond the grand tour of the imperium that the emperor was forcing him to start following the council.
Archduke Brzk and Ambassador Yerlaruwo fell into a discussion about Aslan immigration into the Imperium. Brzk, a supporter of increased non-human immigration, indicated to Yerlaruwo that, despite not bordering Aslan space, he was open to allowing Aslan settlements in his territory. He and Yerlaruwo also discussed the possibility of Bzrk facilitating trade between the Aslan and the Vargr.
Emperor Strephon was happy to get a chance to talk with his cousin, Margaret. He raised the possibility of promoting Duke Norris of Deneb to archduke. Margaret supported this decision. Norris was the hero of the Fifth Frontier War and had risen to the occasion when Duchess Delphine of the Spinward Marches failed in her defense of the border regions from Zhodani, Vargr, and Sword Worlds incursions. She felt that he was exactly the kind of independent noble the Imperium needed. She also expressed hope that the establishment of a domain on the Zhodani border might decrease uncertainty in the region and allow for more peaceful relations.
Archduke Ishuggi, who had been staying near the emperor as part of his honor guard duties, opined that he thought Margaret would make a better choice for promotion to archduke than Norris. Both the emperor and Margaret seemed surprised at this suggestion. The emperor asked if Ishuggi was suggesting that he move Margaret away from her holdings to the frontier. Ishuggi said that she was exactly the sort of logical thinker they needed in the region and he feared that Norris might be too entangled in local politics. Margaret disagreed, saying that Norris had a better handle on the many issues facing the Spinward Marches. Archduke Tranian joined the conversation to agree with Ishuggi. He thought that Margaret’s expertise on infrastructure would help develop the frontier.
After stating that he would think on this, the emperor shifted the conversation to the Solomani problem and asked what the others thought of Archduke Adair’s approach to the historically rebellious home region for humanity. Adair had adopted a strategy of engagement with the Solomani, shifting his role towards one of cooperation and away from one of occupation. While Margaret seemed to support adopting this as official imperial policy, Ishuggi and Tranian both urged that more studies should be conducted.
Hearing his name mentioned, Adair entered the conversation which quickly turned to a discussion of whether the Psionic Suppression Laws should be revoked. Adair was in support of repeal, as were Margaret and Bzrk. Ishuggi firmly disagreed, stating his opposition to anything that could result in “thought police” and exploitation by the Zhodani.