Sunday, 18 February 2018

Rogue's Gallery: Fayra Lockwood

Whilst there are hundreds, if not thousands, of souls living in Alyeska only a few wield any degree of influence on the world around them. Some are in positions of power, others rely on might and bloodshed. There are some who are most subtle, yet their actions still send ripples across Alyeska and even beyond. One of these people is the Commonwealth's top agent in Alyeska and the Queen's personal troubleshooter; Fayra Lockwood.

Fayra Lockwood

Daughter of Lord Henry Lockwood, a noted Commonwealth adventurer and decorated soldier.

Fayra was born during the tenth year of the Great Darmonican War, her father was already widely renown and high decorated at this point. Lord Henry had been badly injured on a mission and was recovering at the time, though it would be some months before he was allowed back on active service. Sensing an opportunity, some Tylander agents attempted to put him out of action for good and ended up killing Fayra's mother in the process. Grief stricken and furious, Lord Henry slewed all but one of the enemy agents who very willingly handed himself over to the authorities and turned Crown's evidence. Not fully recovered from his injuries, Lord Henry led the efforts to neutralizing the Tylander spy ring in the Home Isles.

Once his anger had subsided, Lord Henry turned his focus to his infant daughter and vowed to teach her everything he knew. Soon as her father deemed her old enough, Fayra started learning the skills that her father deemed important enough for her survival. By the time she enrolled at the Royal Military Academy she was already highly skilled and was fast-tracked towards espionage. When she was finally cleared for operations she proved herself just as capable an agent as her father, if not more so. During her time at the Royal Military Academy she met the future Queen Lothwyn Cathmore and the two became fast friends. When Lothwyn succeeded her own father to become reigning monarch of the Commonwealth she invited Fayra to be her personal troubleshooter, which Fayra accepted.

Fayra arrived in Alyeska a couple of years ago and has been active protecting the interests of the Crown and, by extension, the Commonwealth. Her main efforts have been directed towards investigating the disappearance of the Lieutenant-Governor of the province of New Gwentia, which have led her to keep a close eye on Sir Broone Langworth (the Lieutenant-Governor of Eastern Alyeska). She works closely with the Governor-General Sir Douglas Fredrick-Davenport to head off threats that could threaten to destabilize Commonwealth rule in Alyeska. She could prove to be a major ally for the characters, though she can just as easily be a major enemy if the characters seek to destroy the Commonwealth's hold over Alyeska.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Driving d6, Fighting d10, Investigation d8+2, Lockpicking d8, Notice d8+2, Persuasion d6, Shooting d10, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8+2, Taunt d8
Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 8; Toughness: 6 (1)
Hindrances: Loyal, Overconfident, Vow (Minor/Commonwealth)
Edges: Alertness, Ambidextrous, Attractive, Assassin, Block, Improved Block, Combat Reflexes, Dead Shot, Dodge, Improved Dodge, Elan, Extraction, Investigator, Level Headed, Improved Level Headed, Luck, Great Luck, Marksman, Mighty Blow, No Mercy, Quick, Quick Draw, Steady Hands, Thief, Two-Fisted
Gear: 2x Revolver (12/24/48, 2d6, RoF 1, Shots 6, Revolver), Dagger (Str+d4), Rapier (Str+d4), Leather Armor

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Rogue's Gallery: Genchi Clubmen

A second Rogue's Gallery in a row?

What madness is this?

Its part of some ideas I've to further flesh out and develop the world of Darmonica to make it seem more like a living, breathing world. The recent Airman's Gazetteer series was part of this and so will be a few Rogue's Gallery posts. This week's post expands a bit on Genci culture and provides potential allies or enemies for the characters to encounter.






Ghetto Vigilantes

The Genchi are treated as second-class citizens throughout Darmonica. They are forced to live in slums and ghettos with the vast majority living below the poverty line. They are often accused of thievery and the law virtually never ever comes down on their side. Human gangs will frequently target Genchi ghettos or slums with a sizeable Genchi population, knowing that for the most part they can get away with doing so.

In response the Genchi have formed gangs of vigilantes to protect their homes, something that has sparked increasingly violent responses from Human gangs as well as the police. These Genchi vigilantes are often called 'Clubmen' due to the fact that most of them are armed with clubs, the main weapon that is readily and easily available to them. Other blunt weapons and even knives aren't uncommon, though its rare to see a fireman and even then its typically a pistol.

Most Genchi clubmen are young males, normally led by a handful of older and wiser males. Females aren't unheard of, but they tend to be the most vicious fighters. They style themselves as a street gang and will even name themselves. The Gaff Street Cutters of Lindun are a particularly infamous gang having been featured in Commonwealth newsheets and even debated about in parliament due to their street battles with the police.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d6, Notice d8, Repair d8, Shooting d6, Stealth d6
Charisma: -2; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Outsider, Vengeful (Minor)
Edges: McGyver, Mechanic
Gear: Clubs, knives, occasionally pistols

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Rogue's Gallery: The Black Talons

Herein we return to highlighting denizens and persons of note that inhabit the frigid land of Alyeska.

Whilst a great many good natured souls call Alyeska home, there are a few who bear dark stains. Bandits and sky pirates immediately spring to mind, the newsheets certainly help keep them front and center in people's minds. There is another group, a group infamous for its bloody reign of terror in the Alyeskan wilderness.

They are a band of Windryders who call themselves the Black Talons.

The Black Talons

Though there have been recorded instances of clashes between Humans and Windryders, typically they have been caused by the Windryders being provoked by Humans trespassing on or desecrating land scarce to the Windryders. Other times it has been the Windryders acting out of self-defence as Humans have raided a Windryder stead. Though recently there have been attacks against outlaying settlements by a ruthless band of Windryders.

The Black Talons.

They are a band of Windryders seemingly want on the destruction of Human settlements and can be easily identified by a burn mark on their left cheek. This burn mark looks like the rough shape of a bird's talons and a Windryder receives this mark when they join the band. Each member of the Black Talons has either suffered a perceived wrong committed by Humans or view Humans as invaders defiling Alyeska. They are considered outcasts by the various Windryder tribes, though that doesn't stop new members from joining.

Their leader Khargi is well known for his hatred of Humans, his tribe was wiped out by a gang of sky pirates who wanted the tribe's stead and dragonhawk eggs. It was he who formed the Black Talons after finding others who'd suffered at the hands of Humans and soon started raiding remote settlements and logging camps. They only use traditional Windryder weapons like bows and spears, so they limit their attacks to raids on lightly defended settlements with the intention of destroying or killing what they can. Some younger members have advocated for the use of rifles, but Khargi has rejected by brutally maiming the most vocal supporter for using these weapons.

Human characters, or groups with Humans in them, will most certainly encounter the Black Talons as enemies. Genchi characters' experiences will depend on how in favour of technology the Black Talons are in your game. Windryder characters will be mistrusted, but the Black Talons won't be openly hostile to them.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d8, Riding d8, Shooting d6, Stealth d6, Survival d6
Charisma: -2/-4; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 6 (1)
Hindrances: Outsider, Bloodthirsty, Vengeful (Minor)
Edges: Beast Bond, Heart of the North
Gear: Bow (12/24/48, 2d6, RoF 1, Min Str d6), Spear (Str+d6, Parry +1, Reach 1, 2 hands), knife (Str+d4), leather armor

Khargi's Agility, Smarts, Fighting, Riding and Shooting all increase one die. In addition he gains the Command and Block edges.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

January 2018 Update

First update of the new year.

The biggest thing is progress with the Kickstarter fulfillment, something thats taken a shift forwards and is probably of interest to a few people. There is a couple of other things that tie into the Kickstarter which some details about will be posted. Lastly there will be some stuff concerning what Utherwald Press has planned for this year.

Kickstarter

As mentioned above, the Kickstarter has seen a shift forwards with the signing of a few artists. Some preliminary sketches have been received in addition to one or two finished pieces. One of the pieces being worked on is located below and is of a female Genchi. If the artists maintain their current rate of work, then Frozen Skies may be out earlier than expected.


Act 1 of the Kickstarter exclusive adventure 'Remnants of the Past' is almost done, just need to finish off the Act in question and had NPC stats, etc. The first draft of this should hopefully be made available to backers within the next few weeks.

Alyeskan Tales Fiction Companion

Alyeskan Tales is getting a revamp and update.

Included in the new edition is a revised version of the Alyeskan Job story and a completely new story called Jinx. Kickstarter backers will be the first to get their hands on the PDF version before the files on DriveThru get updated.

Other Products & Events

Hoping to get a Cold War Skirmishes PDF out around April time that covers the 1982 Falklands War. Included will be details on the conflict, timeline of events, gear and Role Play suggestions. Its intended to be a PDF-only product and so will likely be available as Pay What You Want.

The Odd Angry Shot book, that covers the ANZACs in Vietnam, is still intended to be released. More details on this possibly later in the year.

As for events this year its not certain whether I'll be attending any.

Local show Diceni is back on this after, though its format is being changed and I've been given no guarantees that I'll get a spot. NOR-CON later in the year another local show I'm hoping to do, though that'll be only as a trader.

On the national level there is UK Games Expo, but at the moment it seems the only way I'll be able to attend is spend the entire weekend running games (well enough to qualify for the free hotel room). There is also suppose to be a UK based Savage Worlds convention, but I need to look into that.

A pipe dream at the moment is attending one of the US conventions, probably GhengisCon which I've heard has a big Savage Worlds presence.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Airman's Gazetteer: Back of Beyond

Now that the 'core' nations of Darmonica have been covered we come to the last entry in the Airman's Gazetteer series; The more distant but relatively unknown reaches of Darmonica.

The major powers of Darmonica are aware that distant lands lie well beyond their borders, though the details are sketchy at best. Some lands have been discovered and explored a little, others are only known thanks to travelers from foreign parts. There is also the prospect of remnant enclaves of Ancient Terrans waiting to be found.


The Back of Beyond

As already mentioned, there is the vast wasteland known as the Southern Wastes that forms the southern border of the Sultanate of Taramate. It is an inhospitable land, where few dare tread, and widely believed to contain numerous Ancient Terran ruins. It is not known how far these wastes reach, but its suspected to be many thousands of miles. The Darmonican powers did establish a number of naval waystations along the coast, though most of these were either destroyed or abandoned during the Great Darmonican War. These waystations remain, but none of the Darmonican powers have expressed any desire to reclaim them. Presently only the Commonwealth is best suited to re-explore the coastline by mounting an expedition from its colony of Orduesh.

To the south of Alyeska lies another continent that is currently known as Colonialis, another vast land that hasn't been fully explored. Most of its coastline has been mapped thanks to various efforts made by the Darmonican powers. The interior has seen few attempts at exploration, early expeditions were hampered by inland cliffs and the inhospitable terrain. The settlements that do exist are located along the coast, but attempts have been made to push further inland after aircraft came available. The interior of Colonialis is dominated by vast deserts and deep jungles inhabited by savage and outlandish creatures. After early disasters, the interior settlements have been established on top of peaks and plateaus. These settlements have been nicknamed 'aerie towns' and being located above the ground has proven to be the best defence against the creatures that inhabit Colonialis.

Finally there is the lands that lie to the east of the vaulting mountain range called Serlov's Bulwark. Not much is known about these lands, save for the few strangers that have come from the eastern lands. Surviving historical records of the former Holy Sodkan Empire report clashes with invaders that forced their way across the Bulwark, though they were beaten back before they made it too far into Sodkan lands. Between the prisoners captured from these incursions and the previously mentioned strangers it is known that a vast kingdom lies beyond the mountains, but these eastern folk have refused to reveal more than that. Without a proper name, many in the Darmonican nations have dubbed this unknown kingdom the 'Forbidden Empire'.

Each year many from the east brave Serlov's Bulwark and settle in the 'western lands', though after the rise of the Iron Collective many of these strangers now take a more southerly route to reach the Union of Sodkan Republics. They've spread out across the various nations of Darmonica, though the great majority of them reside in Sodkan lands. It is believed that Madame Orla's mother was "of the east".

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Airman's Gazetteer: Pamdinia

Nestled to the south of the Artian Confederation is one of Darmonica's few surviving small countries; Pamdinia.

Wedged in between the Mammut Sea to its south and the Odin Mountain Range to the north, Pamdinia is a long but narrow country with few natural resources. It managed to stay neutral during the Great Darmonican War, primarily due to its status as a major trading partner of the Sultanate of Taramate and the strong Pamdinian Navy.


The Pamdinian Republic

Pamdinia is very much a maritime country, its has a long coastline and its land borders are mostly mountainous which forced the country to look to the sea. It established trading routes across the Mammut Sea to many ports and gradually became the nexus point of trade between the northern Darmonican countries and the Sultanate to the south. The construction of the Trans-Pamdinian Railway provided an alternative land route between the Kingdom of Tyland and the Holy Sodkan Empire than going through Artian territory. The Trans-Pamdinian Express was a popular train service linking east and west thanks to Pamdinian neutrality in numerous conflicts that engulfed Darmonica.

The Pamdinians are well known for their extensive maritime trading routes, their long standing neutrality and their strong navy. Though recent upheavals have effected them; trade was greatly affected by the war and the reshaping of power in Darmonica. The once friendly United Provinces (now the Coalition) have turned into fierce rivals, Tyland has fallen under Artian influence, trade with Sodkan lands to the east have fallen sharply and now the Artians are coveting relations with the Sultanate. With reduced access to raw materials such as coal and iron, the Pamdinian Navy is in danger of losing its superiority. The Pamdinians have started retrofitting their ships to use oil, a resource that they do have good access to and one that is increasingly becoming more important.

Wary of the prospect of another major war that could engulf Darmonica and even drag Pamdinina into it, the Pamdinians have been pushing for what they call 'The Darmonican League'. It is intended to be an intergovernmental organisation with the goal of preventing future wars and setting international disputes via peaceful means. The idea has support from the Free State and some Sodkan Republics, though its biggest support will come from the Commonwealth which has openly welcomed the idea but has yet to former any firm commitment to it. Potentially the League could usher in an era of lasting peace for Darmonica, though its a case of getting the idea off the ground.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Airman's Gazetteer: Sultanate of Taramate

Lying across the Mammut Sea south of the 'core' nations of Darmonica is the ancient kingdom known as the Sultanate of Taramate. It is said to be older than the Kingdom of Tyland, though much about the Sultanate is veiled in secrecy. Outsiders are generally restricted to a handful of ports on the Mammut Sea coast, though permission had grudgingly been given for a small number of expeditions to the interior over the years. Recently relations have been struck with the Artian Confederation and a small but growing Artian military presence has been established.


Sultanate of Taramate

Due to the restrictions on dealing with outsiders not a great deal is known about the Sultanate. There is presumably a ruler, though their gender and name has yet to be revealed to non-Taramates. Its military was believed to have been made up of an elite 'Royal Guards' unit and a number of regional militia forces, though this is in the process of being completely reorganised by the Artians. Though even the Artians admit their dealings with the Sultnate governing body has been via court scribes who refer to their ruler as 'Their Serenity'.

What is known is that, aside from the coastal strip, the Sultanate is a vast desert country that stretches to a loose border region known as the 'Southern Wastes'. It is unknown what lies this far south, though it is believed that there are a number of Ancient Terran ruins including what many presume to have been a fairly important city. It is not known whether the Taramates have tried venturing south. There are a handful of Ancient Terran ruins within the Sultanate itself, these have been the sought after goals of a number of expeditions over the years. It seems the Artians may have gained greater access to these ruins.

The Taramate people themselves are mainly clustered in the coastal strip area where there is water and relatively fertile ground for growing crops. The rest reside in scattered desert villages or are nomads that roam the width and breath of the Sultanate. A fair number reside in the Commonwealth colony of Orduesh, wedged between the Sultante and Union of Sodkan Republics, though these are as tight-lipped as their neighbouring cousins. The Pamdinians have had the greatest contact with the Taramates, they regularly trade with one another across the Mammut Sea but the Pamdinians only know little more than everyone else. It appears that the Taramates worship some sort of deity, though as with everything else in their country they have refused to share any info with outsiders. Indeed, many outsiders have reported being barred from entering Taramate temples and even being subjected to a curfew on occasions.

Though normally restricted to the ports on the coast, a few outsiders have managed to sneak into the desert land to the south. They have confirmed the presence of a few Ancient Terran ruins, as well as some newer ruins that may be from the early days of the Sultanate's existence. It is not known how or why these ruins came to be and Taramates seem to steer well clear of them, citing that 'some darkness' now lays claim to them. The few outsiders who have made it this far also report being dogged by the Nobetciler (roughly translates as the Sentinels), the supposed elite bodyguard of the Sultanate's mysterious ruler. The Nobetciler reportedly pursued persons who have visited the desert beyond the Sultanate and warned them not to return, though the Nobetciler are said to be responsible for the outsiders who turn up dead.

Monday, 18 December 2017

The Airman's Gazetteer: The Coalition

The Airman's Gazetteer series continues with a look at the Coalition, a nation ruled over by merchants and corporate entities.

This is also the final blog post of 2017; with the next two weeks being Christmas and New Years respectively normal service will resume on Monday 8th Jan. A two week long break will hopefully mean fair progress will be made on the Kickstarter related content. In the mean time, Happy Holidays for whatever you celebrate at this time of the year.


The Coalition

The Coalition was once the United Provinces and lies to the west and south of the Tyland Free State. Like alot of other nations, the Coalition is a radically different nation to what it was when the Great Darmonican War started. The United Provinces was a nation who's lifeblood was trade and coin flowed freely, drawing traders and mercenaries alike. Mercenaries in particular did well on United Provinces contracts guarding trade convoys, especially when the war broke out.

The United Provinces' last ruler, King Francis IV, constantly worried about his nation being dragged into the conflict and placed restrictions on the export of war materials. The King reasoned long as his nation sold basic foodstuffs and some luxury goods to the various warring factions then he couldn't be accused of favouring any particular side. Problem was that a number of rich merchants and big businesses, whom effectively controlled the United Provinces Council (the nation's legislative body), didn't see it that way. The Council passed a Motion of No Confidence in the King and effectively exiled him. The Council also removed the King's restrictions on exports and some business regulations to improve the profit margins of the business interests that backed the Council.

These days the Coalition is a highly capitalistic nation where all the power resides in the various corporations that still hold sway over the Council. Factories and worker's tenant blocks, plastered with corporate posters, dominate the various towns and cities. Rural areas tend to be filled with either corporation own farms or the country estates of high ranking managers. Small businesses exist, though are connected to the big corporations one way or another. The more independent entities tends to be shopkeepers, though even they have to do business on the corporations' terms.

Each corporation has its own militia and agents to protect its interests, especially interests that lie outside of the Coalition. There are a few 'national' organisations such as the police and military. The Coalition Police perform the same job as their counterparts in other nations, though cases and/or crimes that affect a corporation tends to be handled by that corporation. The military is split into three branches; army, navy and air force. It is tasked with defending the Coalition, though some corporations think that extends to safeguarding their assets and some even have high ranking officers on their payroll. Other organisations of note include the External Audit Department which acts as a national intelligence service and the Assets Retention Bureau that recovers stolen Coalition property.

Every day life in the Coalition is comparable to other nations, though money and, to a degree, skill plays a part in your standing in society. There is a basic education system designed to ensure that the lower classes/workers are able to read, write and follow instructions. For those from the lower classes that prove to be gifted there are colleges where they can learn more technical skills for specialist trades. Children of management level citizens receive a much higher standard of education which includes preparing them for leadership roles, they also have guaranteed places for universities. Those from less well off background can still go to university, though typically it requires getting a scholarship.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Airman's Gazetteer: Union of Sodkan Republics

After looking at the Iron Collective last week, we now head south to the Union of Sodkan Republics; a loose alliance of small nations paranoid both by their big neighbour to the north and each other. They argue to be the successors to the Holy Sodkan Empire, something the rest of Darmonica is happy to accept. Though, many doubt how well the Union will stand when the Iron Guard march south.


Union of Sodkan Republics

As stated above, the Union is a loose alliance of small nations that have branded together out of fear of their large neighbour to the north; the Iron Collective.

These same nations were once part of the Holy Sodkan Empire and claim to be the successors to it, which the Iron Collective has yet to contest. Though they distrust each other as much as they do their big neighbour, which makes co-operation difficult at best. For the most part the Empire kept them in line, but with that authority now gone they are prone to infighting and border skirmishes aren't uncommon.

They are relatively poor, all have suffered economically since the Empire's collapse and they have a limited chance when it comes to foreign trade since the Artian Confederation sits on or close to their major trade route. The Union had a strong mining industry, though that was directed towards feeding the old Empire's need for resources. It does process a light industrial base with a handful of factories, something the Union is seeking to address in addition to reorganizing its rail network. Both projects suffer from the bickering of the various republics and little progress has been made on either.

Each republic has its government and each send representatives to the Assembly, the joint decision making body of the Union. Each republic also maintains its own military, though thankfully these were originally equipped and organised by the Empire so they generally follow the same standard. The Assembly has little control over the republics and their respective armies, its really a chamber where the republics can agree on a general course of action and hope everyone goes along with it. The Assembly has no power to deal with the disputes that arise between the republics and often result in border skirmishes, the overriding fear of the Iron Collective is probably the only thing that stops these border skirmishes from escalating.

Recently the skyships of the Iron Fleet (the Iron Collective's air force) have been making incursions into the Union, the republics only have gasbag style airships and obsolete aircraft to counter these incursions. Many are fearful that these incursions are the prelude to invasion, especially since units of the Iron Guard have been reported in certain remote areas. Though these Iron Guard units don't stay long and their activity suggests that they're looking for something.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Airman's Gazetteer: The Iron Collective

This week we return to the Airman's Gazetteer with a look at a nation that's already been extensively covered; the Iron Collective.

This isolationist, technological theocracy is viewed with a great deal of wariness by the other nations of Darmonica. It has refused to maintain any diplomatic relation. Its goals and motives are unknown, the regime refuses to let any of its citizens be exposed to any external influence. All everyone can do is keep a close eye on the Iron Collective.


The Iron Collective

Every aspect of life within the Iron Collective is dominated by the Order of the Great Machine, originally an offshoot of the Cult of the Great Maker. The Order views society as being one, gigantic machine with every man, woman and child forming an intricate part of that machine by having their own particular roles to play. To achieve this end, the Order has completely rebuilt Sodkan society from the ground up. Families no longer exist, instead the State pairs people up and gives them a quota of children to produce. The pairings and quotas are dependent on various factors such as local population, required traits, etc. All this is administrated under the State Bureau of Social Affairs and Development, which also collects genetic samples from every citizen to analyse and to keep on record.

Children typically stay with their parents until they turn five years old, at which point they are taken and placed in a state academy. They complete their 'Primary Phase' education which ensures that they're educated to a reasonable standard in addition to being continuously assessed. These assessments come into play when the child turns 13 and starts their 'Secondary Phase' of education, this is when they receive their Classification and directed towards a certain trade. The trade chosen is based on the Primary Phase assessments and is considered to be what the particular will be best suited for. They will then be sent to specialized academies for the chosen trade to do their Secondary Phase education. The trade, and Classification, is permanent and isn't normally allowed to be changed. Though before starting Secondary Phase education a person can petition for a certain trade, but must complete a more vigorous assessment to prove that trade is suitable for them.

Crime is punished by Declassification, effectively a revoking of a person's rights as a citizen. They cannot collect their state rations, cannot receive healthcare and cannot get what is considered to be a 'legal' job. The Declassified tend to wind up either in state labour camps or forced to seek refuge in the fringes of society. There are also what is known as the Unclassified which are spilt into two broad categories. The first category is those who fail their Primary Phase, basically their assessments were too inconclusive to assign a trade. The other category is 'non-citizens', basically those who aren't in the system. Their status is similar to the Declassified, but they do have a greater freedom of movement within the Collective and can apply for state 'work for benefits' programmes to gain access to basic rations and healthcare. Both groups tend to form the Iron Collective's criminal underworld, they are also the ones that are more likely to deal with outsiders.

The Collective has no currency, people work assigned jobs to receive rations and other state benefits. Though bartering does occur, but that tends to be in areas away from the central authority. Despite it being illegal, some people do trade with other nations but they have to use that nation's currency in order to do so. Non-Classified citizens have an easier time of this than their Classified cousins, the Unclassified in particular who can move around more freely and tend to form the bulk of the traders who operate out of the Collective. The Iron Guard, the state's combined military and police force, does try to clamp down on the cross-border trading but border duties tend to be fulfilled by the Unclassified who sign on as auxiliaries and are more willing to turn a blind eye. The central authority has slowly been expanding its reach and important border settlements now have a detachment of Regulators, the Collective's secret police.

The biggest shock to outsiders entering the Collective is the efforts being remade to rebuild the entire country on a so-called 'grid pattern'. Settlements have been razed and then rebuilt on a grid layout with future expansion planned to keep inline with this. Roads, railways and even rivers have been rerouted to form straight lines. This gets more noticeable as you travel deep into the heart of the Collective, but even the border regions aren't completely immune from this. The stated reason is 'too improve efficiency', but many fear a much more darker reason.