Everyone knows that the Caal destroyed the Federation 20 years after the 3rd Civil War...
Everyone knows that the Empire came soon after, leading to a millennium of repression...
Everyone knows how the story ends...
Everyone is wrong.
In 2251, seven years after the 3rd Civil War, a race called the Vin Shriak, thought to have been destroyed in an earlier encounter, came back in force. System after system fell before the fanaticism of the VS holy warriors -- the Terran fleet was unprepared for the world ships that punched through the weakened defenses of the Federation. In their most desperate hour, they called on help from their enemies, knowing that only together could they keep the Vin Shriak from overrunning the galaxy. The Eastern Bloc, Enoch, K'Nes Tor, and the Jurvain allied together and over the course of five years, eventually destroyed the Vin Shriak and ended their menace once and for all. However, the Eastern Bloc was destroyed, and the other nations were weakened by the invasion.
That's how it actually happened. But what if two men, powerful by themselves, decided to join together and offered their services to the Emperor of the Eastern Bloc. He accepted...and together they formed a new triumvirate. Instead of Arthur Clarke establishing the alliance that saved the galaxy, it was Andrea Treschi and Vin Dane who created a union that isolated the Federation, leaving them alone to fight the Vin Shriak. The Federation fought fiercely, but in the end, they fell under the VS juggernaut. Only when the last task forces were falling under the world ships did this union of allied nations come in and save the world. Between the nations, they divided up the Federation between them.
Then the Eastern Bloc struck. The majority of casualties fell on the backs of their neighbors -- by design -- leaving their fleet intact and able to push back the other nations and take the lion's share of the Federation's planets. With the triumvirate firmly in control, the Bloc became the Middle Kingdom, and rebuilt the known worlds, leaving a small ring of weakened nations on their border.
The present day -- the year is 2271, the Emperor Chiang Jae-Young Nguyen reigns supreme over the bulk of the galaxy. Asian Humans are the ruling class, a feudal system divides the Middle Kingdom, keeping possible rivals weak, but allowing a strong support base to stop outside invasion. However, not everyone is happy with this new balance of power. A new resistance was born calling itself the Tech Infantry, led by the Federation's greatest warrior, Arthur Clarke. The Jurvain and K'Nes are looking for revenge, the new border states are looking to expand...and an unseen menace is emerging in the streets. Emperor Chiang is dying, and a power vaccum is about to open up -- with everyone scrambling to fill it.
Now a new group of souls surface in this sea of chaos -- their light will change the universe. Will you join them?
The character's universe is a dark, cold, heartless creation set over 250 years into the future. It was born in pain. Humanity is ripped from its comfortable existence into realizing that aliens, magic, werewolves, vampires, and all sorts of strangeness exist. On the verge of this realization, humanity is again snatched into firm control by a partial world government, and all mages and werewolves are drafted into a powerful military force called the "Tech Infantry."
The Earth Federation was a military dictatorship, lightly covered with veneer of democracy. It was not born out of revolution; no goals of uniting humanity to greater freedom. It was born out of desperation; Earth was threatened by alien invasion, a vampiric armageddon, and the whole world awakened and spiraling out of control. The Technocracy, a group of powerful mages, seized power, and made sure that a new awakened humanity was still under a firm leash. Only the East Asian nations remained independent, but they were eventually persuaded to evacuate the earth and cede their earthly territory to the Federation in exchange for several planets on the rim, where they founded the Eastern Bloc. Under their leadership, the problems were solved one by one, but they never released their control over the people.
Then they were bombarded with a series of invasions from outside and civil wars from within. This weakened the Federation to the point where it had difficulty defending itself or providing for its citizens. When the Vin Shriak came, they called for help from their neighbors. In a carefully planned move, they refused to help, and allowed the destruction of the Federation. Then the Eastern Bloc returned in force and took over the ruins of what had been the bastion of humanity, founding the Middle Kingdom.
As with many things, the concept of Tech Infantry, or more affectionately known as "TI" or "Tech", came out of pure boredom. We can blame two people...Nathan Bax for starting it all...and Marcus Johnston for keeping it alive.
Season 1 (1997): While stuck in Morrison, Illinois during his summer break from ISU, Nathan Bax was bored out of his mind. Looking forward to the new Starship Troopers movie, he thought of playing a White Wolf game set in the Starship Troopers universe. He told a couple of his friends about it, including Marcus Johnston, Chris Yarwood, and Martin Hohner. Jennifer Simmons (Bax's girlfriend...later wife) also joined in. Together they braved the worst the Bug War could offer. Not a lot of political backstory...just a lot of missions, dying, and good roleplaying. Lwan Eddington, Fialla Spencer, and Arthur Clarke make their first appearances as player characters.
Season 2 (1998): Well, we had to say goodbye to Martin, but we added Penny Horwitz and Joel Ruggaber (who were a couple and later married each other). For the 86th Platoon, it was no longer just about the Bug War. Bax added in a political element and the 1st Civil War was changed by the player's actions. With the Triumvirate destroyed and all well with the universe, Bax got bored and decided to end it. Richard Fox and Maeve Harrington made memorable first appearances as player characters.
Season 3 -- Part 1 (1998): Penny ran the show now, 15 years ahead, and the players played the kids of their previous characters, as they're on the run from the TI draft. Hilarity ensues as we keep running into our old characters, Penny gets more and more power hungry, and we all start getting bored.
"Ring of Fire" Movie (1998): Bax comes back down for Halloween and runs a session. The characters are taken through history to find out about the Orb and the Caal invasion that's being affected by it. Finally the Caal are stopped by taking the Orb out of existence altogether (thanks to "the grey man") and everything's back to normal.
Season 3 -- Part 2 (1998): Or is it? Well, Bax didn't like the way Penny had messed up his creation, so he basically destroyed a lot of what Penny was trying to set up. Penny solves this problem by creating an alternate universe, where many of our old and present character's situations were changed, and we had to figure out how this meshed. At first, it was a cool idea, but then it devolved into playing our old characters in weird ways. Personality conflict between Marcus (stressed out from student teaching) and Penny (stressed out from wedding plans) finally ended the game with little resolution.
Season 4.1 (1999): After a hiatus, Bax wanted to start an e-mail game in the Tech Infantry Universe. Martin, Marcus, and Chris got in to play, but then Bax got busy with work, and it was disbanded after only one or two turns. Dr. Zebulon Carter makes his first brief appearance in the story.
Season 4.2 (1999): Marcus tried to use the e-mail game idea as well and started it again. This actually went on for a couple months before it got stopped by Marcus' heavy workload in Korea and player disinterest. Erich Von Shrakenberg made his first appearance as a player Character. The Fearless Jackals, a gang of ruthless criminals that will eventually include Andrea Treschi and Lord Cornelius, make their first appearance in the story.
Season 5 (2000): This was Bax's game that he played in the normal tabletop way down in St. Louis. Again, political intrigues abound, deception, lies, and good storyteller. What actually happened is a mystery because none of the veteran players were involved since they were hours away by car.
Season 4.3 (2000-1): Marcus, back in the midwest but bored to tears due to his job at State Farm Insurance, revived the TI e-mail game in order to fill the time. This actually worked and had 8 characters running through the ins and outs of the 3rd Civil War. Finally ended after 9 months of play...about a month or two too long. Andrea Treschi makes his first appearance as a Player Character.
Season 6 (2001): Bax again...with a lack of players in the St. Louis area, he called upon his old veterans to play once a month, in marathon sessions for TI. This is the Y3K concept...sending TI a thousand years in the future in order to throw us off completely. Rise of the Holy Terran Empire, yadda, yadda. Very good storyline, but it was hard for all of us to be there every month. Eventually, the game disintegrated.
Season 7 (2001): Bax's second attempt to do the marathon session game, this time taking the same plotline, and setting it five years later. By this time, Bax really wanted to do something else other than TI, so he systematically killed every single legend he could from the TI universe. Fun but sad.
"A Place Called Earth" Miniseries (2002): An attempt by one of the former players of Season 4.3 (Andy Hutchinson) in order to restart the TI universe. This was set at the very beginning of the universe..once vamps and werewolves came out of the woodwork. Interesting concept...but this e-mail game lasted for three turns before falling apart...one assumes because of bad writing.
"Exodus" project (2002-2003): An abortive attempt at a TI revival that never got off the ground. Marcus was the instigator again, with lukewarm support from Martin, Chris, Bax, and a couple other former players. The idea was to set this new season in the year 4097, a thousand years after the galaxy was destroyed at the end of the Y3K (Seasons 6 and 7) game epoch. A handful of survivors from that cataclysm had managed to colonize a lone planet on the edge of another galaxy, but their colony had disintegrated into a dozen petty states all warring with each other, and technology had retrogressed to a hodgepodge of primitive and even medieval devices alongside a handful of surviving high-tech islands. It was an intriguing concept, but world-building proved more fun than actually writing a story or creating characters, and most of the players wandered off from sheer boredom while waiting for Martin and Marcus to finish drawing maps and writing out timelines.
Season 8 (2004): This was the second time someone had seriously come up with a way to restart TI yet again. After the "Exodus" idea flopped, there was always somebody trying to come up with something. Finally, over Christmas 2003, the idea of changing the timeline to allow the Eastern Bloc take over everything was rather intriguing. So here we are again...
INTRODUCING YOURSELF --
When your character emerges out of its electronic shell, he or she is destined to run into somebody. When they do, there are a couple things you need to know if you don't want to get punched. All of this only applies if you're actually in the Middle Kingdom...the rest may or not be followed in the Border Nations.
Like it or not, how you were born affects how people will treat you. To explain:
Many currencies are used on the fringes of known space, but in the heart of it all is the Imperial Crown. It is the most stable and is often used as the international currency of trade. For an idea of value, 1 C[rown] equals the buying power of a 1985 U.S. dollar; a candy bar or a soda costs a half-crown.
The official language of the Middle Kingdom is pi-yin, Mandarin Chinese written in a Latin alphabet. However, you will find that even though it's supposed to be Chinese, the simple necessity of working together with other Asian nations in order to survive on the rim of known space, has changed it. They've added many phrases and words from Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Thai, and even Malay. The traditional Chinese alphabet is still used, but only for ceremonial purposes.
The unofficial language is yan-giz, former Federation English, which is the main trade language. Because of the whole range of cultures involved in the Fed, it often includes some phrases in a multitude of other, slowly-dying, languages.
Everyone knows both languages in the Empire, swearing is usually done in the language that the person is not speaking in...the polite listener will not betray his knowledge of the words, in order to preserve the speaker's and his own face.
The Middle Kingdom did not evolve overnight...it was the careful result of years of social change, which was then inflicted upon on unsuspecting Federation. When the Eastern Bloc was expelled from Earth, shortly before the "Big One" hit the home world, they were driven to a small planet on the rim of known space. All the Asians who migrated to Showa had to work together to survive. However, once they had established the colony, the old hatreds began to come back to the surface. The Communist Party tried to resurge and seize power. In the five years that followed, the anti-communist forces combined under one leader, General Chiang. When the communists were finally defeated, the Bloc was reestablished, although this time under a constitutional monarchy, with Chiang as emperor. He immediately solved the bickering forces of his alliance by marrying into the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese leading families (four wives), integrating them all equally into the new aristocracy, and brutally crushing any resistance among the remaining factions.
With this united front, the nobles of the Bloc quickly expanded out from Showa and were able to colonize several neighboring systems with great ease. Those that helped in the development were also granted patents of nobility. Although it was not necessary in the Bloc to be noble to hold political power under their constitution, it helped considerably. When the Bloc became the Kingdom, the government expanded exponentially, but the aristocracy expanded along with it, as rewards for services rendered after the restoration. After two decades of imperial rule, the mandarins (non-nobles) are once again gaining sway over the political system, but the nobles are not completely out of the picture.
BORDER NATIONS --
To understand the Middle Kingdom, you also need to understand the nations that surround it, so that when you cross a border, you don't leave in a vacuum box. Some of these are the shells of ancient races; others have only existed since after the Vin Shriak War.
Rules (C)2004 Marcus Johnston. All Rights Reserved.