Ahl-Betan is a system-neutral planet setting marked with intrigue and insurrection. Perhaps there is a place for it in your sci-fi campaign? If so, we welcome you to use it!
Ahl-Betan is a watery world near the border between two galactic powers. The planet has a single continent which shares its name, and that continent is home to a group of primitivists. These people left the Galactic Commonwealth centuries ago, seeking an isolated life away from the technology and politics of modernity. Unfortunately for them, all of that has come crashing down on them once more. Its capital, and the only real city on the planet, is called Trenira.
Trenira is an unusual place, by galactic standards. At its core is a castle and its fortifications, and beyond that is a ring of ramshackle stone and wood buildings, many with thatched roofs. Beyond that, however, is a ring of orderly prefabricated concrete and metal structures.
The Trenira River flows through the town, and a canal diverts some its flow around Castle Corlach, forming a moat. The only large bridge in Old Town is on the east side, and is built out of stone. Crossing on the west side requires carefully crossing one of the large logs that have been placed across the river, or going into the newer part of the city and crossing one of the military’s temporary bridges.
Castle Corlach, at the core of the city, has been taken over by the forces of the Third Spiral Arm. Antennas and satellite dishes dot its roof. Hoverbikes and goods haulers sit on the dirt of the tournament fields. Some of its original occupants still live here, most notably the Queen.
Queen Fionna MacGill, figurehead. Queen Fionna is a pale-skinned woman with straight black hair and an empty eye socket. She is the head of what remains of the planet’s royal family. Her first contact with off-world forces was with envoys from the Core Authority, who attempted to kill her family and take over the planet. The previous king and queen, her father and mother, were killed in the fight, and she lost her right eye. Her desire for vengeance has caused her to concede a lot to the Commonwealth, including most of the castle and de facto rule of the planet.
Old Town is the ring of medieval buildings. They are most dense near the castle’s gatehouse. This area has mostly been left as-is by the Commonwealth forces, though plastoid-armored troopers can often be found in the drinking halls alongside tunic-clad locals.
Banner Square sits just down the main avenue from the gatehouse. It is lined with three-storey buildings, with shops occupying the first two floors and the residences of the proprietors above. The Square was often used for festivals, but it is now a permanent tent market. There are poles around the edges of the square that were once used for the banners of visiting knights and royals, but now only hold the flags of the Commonwealth.
The Red Canal is a north-south ditch on the east side of town, running from the tanneries to the Trenira River. It smells incredibly foul, and, as the name implies, is an unsettling shade of red.
Just a few blocks from the Red Canal is a two-storey wattle and daub building with a sign out front depicting a monkey covered in ice. This is the Frosted Monkey, a bar and lodge in Old Town.
The first floor is an old-timey bar with a fireplace along the wall opposite the main door. A gigantic hologram tank was hauled in at some point, though the novelty of this has worn off for most of the locals. The holotank usually depicts exotic dancers of various alien species.
The second floor is sectioned off into small rooms. Most of these are currently occupied by a group of raccoon-like mercenaries called The Volatile Sons.
The rest of the town, the new parts build by the Commonwealth forces and settlers, has no particular name. It does, however, have some notable areas:
The Raynloft Foodoplex is a large warehouse-like store, selling both groceries and prepared food. The Foodoplex is open 24 hours a day, and reasonably busy for that whole time. It is believed to be a front for Separatist money laundering, but some troops still eat here.
The planet’s only spaceport is located just outside of Trenira on a flat plain. It is little more than a dozen ramshackle buildings and transport trucks for fuel and cargo. A large, conspicuous fuel tank is located perilously close to the hangar the Commonwealth Forces use for their transport craft.
Stacks of containerized cargo sit on the south edge of the complex, waiting to be loaded onto transports to go either into the city or off-world.
Separatists and their sympathizers live all across the continent, even in Trenira. Cells of separatist operatives base themselves out of abandoned barns, wooded hollows, or caves. However, they do have one major base.
Fort Victory is the name of a cave complex in the mountains of the northern reaches of the continent. The heart of the fort is a cavern called The Cathedral, a gigantic open area with artificial lighting, the command post for the Separatist Forces, and a small armory. The rest of the cave system is littered with bunking areas, arms caches and other supplies. The arms caches are a mix of locally made medieval-esque weapons (Swords, spears and so on) and captured high-tech weaponry.
The Major Powers
The Commonwealth of the Third Spiral Arm (just “the Commonwealth” to its citizens, and either its full title or “Third Spiral Arm” to outsiders) is a remnant of the once galaxy-spanning Galactic Commonwealth. The Commonwealth sees itself as a stalwart defender of representative democracy, safeguarding freedom within (and slightly beyond) its borders. The Commonwealth has a working relationship with an order of mystic space monks, though none are currently officially deployed to Ahl-Betan.
Commander Ivanka Tesnoy, Commonwealth leader. Tesnoy is a tall, dark-skinned human woman. Her officer’s uniform is impeccably clean, despite the amount of dust in the castle. She is in charge of Commonwealth operations on Ahl-Betan, and thus effectively in charge of all of Ahl-Betan. She firmly believes that peace with the local separatists is possible, and thus is hesitant to authorize full-scale assaults against their hideouts.
Sgt. Callakas Miasazos, special forces operator. Sgt. Miasazos is a tall, white-skinned man with broad shoulders and a mohawk haircut. The patch on his shoulder depicts a rat chewing through a wire,with text reading “TUNNEL RATS” around it. He and his squad specialize in cave and tunnel combat, and hook points for rappelling gear are visible on his armor. He is a firm believer in the ideals of the Commonwealth and refuses to overlook corruption or war crimes, a fact that has earned him some enemies higher up the chain.
Officer Mirak Kajo, goon. Kajo is a skinny, gaunt man with a short mohawk. He has no interest in the greater good or law and order, he just wants to get paid for being a violent thug. Both his upper canines are gold and sharpened. He and his squadron usually patrol around Old Town.
The Separatists, who have no formal name, are mostly locals. Much of the population was pushed into the forests and caves of the continent, trying to keep as far from the new settlers as possible, but others have taken a more active route. With primitive traps and captured weapons, they wage a guerrilla war against the Commonwealth.
Timothy Gambrill, commander. Timothy is a blond man of average height, with hawk-like features. He hasn’t seen sunlight in over a year, due to being the number one target on the Commonwealth’s hit list. He carries a sharp dagger on his belt at all times.
Gennedy “Figgy” Figgins, goon. Figgy is a bog-standard militiaman, a true believer who would, regardless, rather be farming. Most of his armor is forged steel, but he wears a stolen and repainted Commonwealth helmet as well. He carries a laser rifle and a steel dagger.
Hector “Heck” Chambers, primitivist. Hector is a short, broad-shouldered man missing several teeth. He came out of the primitivist settlements in the woods to join the separatists, and now runs a sabotage squad. He carries a very large laser rifle.
Of course, a plucky group of semi-medieval, malnourished recluses wouldn’t normally stand a chance against laser-rifle wielding soldiers. Luckily for them, they have some secret backing from another galactic power:
The Core Authority
The Core Authority is the other major remnant of the Commonwealth. Their footprint in the galaxy is small, but it contains most of the highly-populated worlds. The Core Authority is a repressive dictatorship, with all communications monitored by the government and secret police throughout the population. Two of their representatives are currently on Ahl-Betan:
Aleksandre “Raz” Razmadze, Core liaison. Raz is an officer from the military of the Core Authority, sent to covertly aid the Separatists with both tactical advice and materiel. He sees the separatists as nothing more than a weapon to bludgeon the Commonwealth with, though he pretends otherwise.
Thoth, evil space wizard. Thoth is a black-clad space wizard with a featureless gold mask. Aside from Razmadze, nobody is willing to stand within five feet of him if they can at all help it. He believes that an artifact of his order of malicious space mystics sits somewhere deep in Castle Corlach. His voice is artificially deepened by his helmet.
Neither the Third Spiral Arm or the Core have the resources to win a war right now, but they’re both eager to take out the other. This leads to proxy conflicts, with Ahl-Betan being just one of many. Thanks to this cold war, the galaxy has been ensnared in a web of secret alliances, intelligence network infiltration, back room deals and back alley murders.
The Fontaine Cartel
The Fontaine Cartel is a gang of off-worlders who have been smuggling weapons and illicit substances to sell to the local population. They also steal cargo opportunistically. Most of their material goes to the separatists, but more commercially oriented goods are fenced through Raynloft’s Foodoplex.
Ignacio Fontaine, mobster. Ignacio is a gaunt, skinny man with abnormally long fingers. He runs the Cartel remotely, from an estate on the western coast of the continent.
Cornelius Redgate, goon. Cornelius is a scrawny man with short, red hair. He was trained as a heavy machine operator at the Spaceport, and he now uses these skills to steal cargo containers for the cartel. He always carries a laser pistol taped to the small of his back.
The Volatile Sons
The Volatile Sons are a group of mercenaries who are all from the same clan of raccoon-like aliens. They are primarily bounty hunters, but have worked with the Tunnel Rats on larger actions as well. Each wears a pauldron with a jagged yellow starburst surrounded by an askew ring on it.
Prags, mercenary. Prags is a ring-tailed raccoon-man with a deep fondness for cold, hard cash. Prags speaks with a stammer on most Ts.
Lub, hacker. Lub is a white-tailed raccoon-man with a black “bandit mask” facial marking. He is a talented computer hacker, with no particular malice in his heart. He just likes breaking into well-defended computer systems. He’s been very bored on Ahl-Betan, and may be amenable to other employment opportunities.
Osh, demolitionist. Osh is an albino raccoon-man who almost always wears a bandolier of grenades. She is absolutely terrible with a gun, but knows just the right amount of explosives to get any job done. And then she doubles it, just in case.
Deev, thief. Deev is a ring-tailed raccoon-man who is exceptionally light on his feet. He carries a cane with a hooked end, which he uses to reach things his short arms can’t. He is flirtatious and a little cocky, but he has a softer heart than most of his comrades.
B’shak “Rayn” Raynloft, legitimate business owner. Rayn is a tall, heavyset man with patchy brown hair. His black eyes move erratically, and appear to be perpetually bloodshot. This is the result of an old injury. He is blind, but uses a sonar implant to “see.” He speaks with a distinct rural twang. He uses his business to launder money for the separatists in exchange for a cut, which he uses to put his daughter through school off-world.
Ranasa Chambers, sensitive youth. Ranasa is a young primitivist, raised in the forests of Ahl-Betan. His clan considers him to be a bit strange, since he seems to have an uncanny connection with the animals of the area. This is because, unbeknownst to them, he is subconsciously tapping into the power of the mystic energy that connects all things. Unfortunately, his father Hector is a separatist warrior, and his death could push Ranasa down the dark path.
Adventure Hook: The Hot Potato
The Separatists have smuggled a nuclear warhead onto Ahl-Betan in a container full of potatoes. Unfortunately for them, before it could be recovered, it was stolen by the Fontaine Cartel. Now, the Commonwealth and the Separatists are frantically searching for the “Hot Potato,” and the Cartel is trying to figure out how to get rid of it.
If the Commonwealth recovers it, they will transport it off-world for study. If the Separatists recover it, they will attempt to detonate it near Castle Corlach in an attempt to decapitate the Commonwealth command structure.
What Everyone Knows
The Commonwealth knows: Separatist communications referring to a device called “HOT POTATO” have been intercepted. The container has been identified as a red, KELTECH-branded container, destined for delivery to the Raynloft Foodoplex, a grocery store which is suspected to be a money laundering operation. Whether it was ever there is unknown, but it is not there now.
The Separatists know: The Hot Potato is the warhead for a nuclear weapon, stuffed a container of potatoes to block it from radiation scans. The container arrived on world, but hasn’t been seen since the offload. According to the rumor mill, the Fontaine Cartel managed to heist several containers from the port a few hours after the Hot Potato landed.
The Fontaine Cartel knows: They stole a few containers from the port, one of which was full of potatoes. Unfortunately for them, it also contained a nuclear warhead.
Grem “Bleak 3” Lydash, Commonwealth intelligence officer. Bleak 3 is a short but muscular man with brown hair. He rarely leaves his bunker at Fort Cleaver, but he keeps his physique by constantly lifting weights, sometimes even during briefings. He’s in charge of running down the leads on the “hot potato.”
Willijad “Dak” Dakhas, security guard. Dak is a night watchman at the spaceport’s cargo yard, and he was on shift the night the Fontaine Cartel broke in. He saw some abnormally jerky movement among the cranes and went to check it out. He arrived just in time to see three unmarked container-haulers starting to drive away from the loading area. He has a laser burn on one arm from one of the Fontaine Cartel goons’ suppressive fire.
Takhos, cartel lieutenant. Takhos is a tall, brown-furred felinoid with aspirations of being a high-roller. Unfortunately for him, his goons grabbed the wrong container and instead of fancy machine parts, he now has a nuclear warhead.
The Hot Potato
The Hot Potato is a hexagonal container with a keypad on one edge. It is meant to be slotted into a missile or bomb after the correct code has been entered on the keypad, and it contains a substantial nuclear payload. Once armed via the keypad, a sufficient explosion near it will set it off. A military-grade radiation detector will be able to pick up the radiation from about 100 meters away, once the device has been removed from the container full of real, non-hot potatoes.
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