Tolvis VII, known by its inhabitants simply as Tolvis, is a remote planet located in the Galaxy's Deep Core, a dangerous, poorly charted region of space home to only a relative handful of regularly visited worlds. Orbiting the star Tolvis, Tolvis VII is the 7th planet out from the primary, sharing the the star's habitable zone with a handful of other rocky planets; although not the only planet in its system to develop complex life, it proved the most amenable to colonization by outsiders. The system in general is located at the end of a long, tenuous hyperspace route that was forged in the very earliest days of the Old Republic, but which is little known today, being of interest only to adventurers, explorers and occasionally criminals.
Tolvis VII itself is a temperate world, with diverse terrain ranging from broad oceans to arid deserts, grasslands, lush forests and high mountains. The planet has respectable natural resources, consisting of various metals and large hydrocarbon deposits in the form of coal and oil. These have been exploited by the planet's sentient population as a form of cheap energy, driving the planet's industrialization; the detrimental effects of using such fossil fuels are poorly understood by the locals as yet. A handful of the planet's nation-states have programs to develop fission power, although none have so far managed to build a working nuclear reactor.
Tolvis VII's local population refer to themselves broadly as Tolvites, although they are not native to the planet they now call home. The Tolvites are in fact an isolated population of Lepi, a rabbit-like species hailing from the planet of Coachelle Prime in the Mid Rim. They are speculated by sapientologists to be the survivors of a lost colonial expedition which left the Lepi home-world many thousands of years ago, although the Tolvites themselves have only vague notions of their true history.
- HISTORY -
Tolvis VII has a long history, even before sentients finally arrived on its surface. Originally formed billions of years ago out of its young star's accretion disc, the newborn planet was bombarded by stellar radiation and debris for aeons, eventually cooling to a point where conditions were favorable to carbon-based life, which did finally arise. Over hundreds of millions of years, this life would progress from single-celled organisms into more complex forms, starting on a path familiar to many planets throughout the fledgling Galaxy. First came the age of life in the oceans, and then, from the oceans, plants and animals emerged to challenge the barren continents. From simple arthropods and primitive amphibians came first, eventually adapting themselves into more complex forms, leading in turn to sauropoids, avioids, mammaloids and others.
By the time the planet's first sentient inhabitants arrived, Tolvis VII had a thriving, diverse ecosystem, one which had drawn the attention of beings from other stars. In approximately 8,000 BBY, a Lepi colony ship entered the Tolvis system, its crew and passengers eager to start new lives on a virgin world. However as they made preparations to land, disaster struck; their ship was caught in an immense solar storm, one which wiped their computer systems and blinded their instruments, causing the ship to have to crash-land. The survivors, when they climbed from the ruined vessel, found themselves stripped of all the recorded knowledge and technology they had been depending on to help them establish their new home.
Thus began the saga of the first Tolvites.
Though deprived of modern technology, the surviving Lepi were pioneers, and managed to form a community despite the challenges of their new environment. The first Tolvites established a civilization their legends refer to as Tolv, a comparatively sophisticated culture that made use of what little advanced knowledge was passed down by the first generation of colonists. Tolv, the stories say, stood for centuries, but was eventually destroyed by natural disasters, which led to the diaspora of Tolvites across the planet.
By 7,000 BBY, the Tolvites who had fled the destruction of Tolv had established new civilizations scattered across the globe. These new states would be much less advanced in terms of culture and technology than Tolv had been, but would form the foundation of cultures and civilizations to come. Over the next few millennia, the Tolvite cultures would laboriously advance toward industrial civilization, with more than a few setbacks along the way. Great empires rose and fell, and rose again.
About a century before the present day, steam power was discovered by the Tolvites, swiftly followed by electricity and the internal combustion engine, fueled by the planet's ample natural hydrocarbon reserves. By this time, the scattered kingdoms and city-states spawned by the collapse of Tolv had become nations, and as the industrial age gathered literal steam, greater nations absorbed smaller ones into their spheres of influence, or outright as they expanded their borders. The machine age had grown to effect all aspects of life, from the types of goods the average person consumed to the conduct of war. Ships, trains and even automobiles began to become commonplace.
Eventually, of course, the Tolvites rediscovered the power of flight.
Initially, lighter-than-air craft filled with hydrogen or helium started to appear in the skies, but soon, heavier-than-air craft joined them. Individuals and nations embraced the sky as a new arena of competition; they competed to be the fastest, the highest, the furthest. Within only a few decades, airships transported the planet's elite across oceans in comfort and even luxury, as darting airplanes dueled in the skies of trench-scarred battlefields with the latest implements of war.
But the world had superpowers, now. The great nations with the largest territories and spheres of influence began to butt heads, and many predicted that a war would soon break out between them, one in which all the horrors the industrial age could muster would be brought to bear. Tolvis VII braced itself for the war to end all wars...
But then, the aliens came.
The Tolvites had long ago forgotten their true history, and when ships from the wider Galaxy first appeared in their skies, they came as a shock. The first reports were scattered, easily dismissed, but before long, strange craft were appearing above major cities and industrial centers. Nobody knew where they came from, or what they wanted; attempts to communicate with them had come to naught, even with the use of the most powerful new electromagnetic spectrum radio equipment.
When the abductions began, it inspired a panic.
The aliens would drop down on unsuspecting communities, rounding up the inhabitants and taking them away aboard their huge ships. Any who resisted were met with strange and frightening weapons against which there was no defense, and meanwhile, the Tolvites' own weapons seemed only marginally effective. Moreover, the aliens seemed to have no respect for international borders; they raided all nations equally.
This external threat was the impetus for the Tolvites to unite. The nations of the world combined their resources to form an international organization to fight the aliens, using the best personnel and equipment that Tolvis VII could muster. Though they were still not a real match for the invaders, their actions seemed to slow down the abductions, with the aliens choosing their targets more carefully. Gradually, Tolvite technology also began to improve, in no small part thanks to reverse-engineering of captured alien technology.
Revelations about the aliens came when, months after a failed raid on a remote alien base, a few pilots who had been downed during the battle managed to make it back home, some even flying stolen alien craft. As it turned out, their opponents were nothing more than criminals; scouts from a major crime syndicate had rediscovered Tolvis VII, handing over the coordinates to a well-equipped band of slavers. The slavers had been raiding the planet periodically ever since, with abductees sold in markets across the Outer Rim.
This steeled the resolve of the Tolvites; aliens were strange and inscrutable, but gangsters and slavers were something they understood, and knew how to fight. Though efforts continued to reverse engineer Galactic technology, the few captured spacecraft were used by the Tolvites to initiate contact with the outside Galaxy on their own terms. They even began to hire mercenaries to aid them in their fight against the slavers.
The war continues to this day...
- GOVERNMENT -
Tolvis VII does not yet have a unified planetary government, instead being comprised of a patchwork of independent or semi-independent nation states. These nations, for the most part, fall into various spheres of influence projected by large "superpowers" whose culture and economy are influential enough to extend beyond their borders. The planet has five major superpowers, including the Tovarin Union of Socialist Republics, the United States of Hemispheria, the Ebran Empire, the Empire of the Cipangs and the Greater Tolvic Realm.
The United States of Hemispheria, or USH, is the third youngest of these superpowers, and while not physically the largest, has disproportionate cultural and economic influence across the globe. Nominally a democracy, it takes up most of a continent in the western hemisphere, and extends its influence directly across the nations that exist to the north and south. The USH is an industrial powerhouse, and has access to plentiful natural resources. It is an industrial and technological powerhouse, and a world leader in commerce.
Being removed from the other superpowers by oceans, the USH is insulated from wars which break out on other continents, being outside the range of bomber aircraft and able to intercept any naval flotilla sent against it well beyond its shores. Despite this, the country has maintained a policy of neutrality in world affairs, and exports goods to almost everyone.
The Tovarin Union of Socialist Republics, or TUSR, is the second youngest of the world's superpowers. Rising from the ashes of the old Tovarin Empire, which fell in a series of revolts and revolutions about 30 years ago, the TUSR is physically the largest of the world's superpowers, spanning territory on two continents, bordering the Greater Tolvin Realm to the west and the Empire of the Cipangs to the east. The TUSR is a hard-line communist state, with a rigidly planned economy. Unfortunately, the TUSR has had to build itself up almost from scratch; the old Tovarin Empire was slow to industrialize, and despite herculean efforts on the part of its economic planners, the TUSR is still not nearly as well developed as many of its neighbors. Despite these conditions, many citizens of the TUSR claim they are better off under communist rule and central planning than they were under the old Imperial government, which was one of Tolvis VII's last absolute monarchies.
The TUSR, despite its underdeveloped industrial sector, has made great strides in the fields of automotive technology, as well as aviation. The country maintains a modern air force, and although much of its strength is composed of obsolete aircraft, there is a core of advanced designs as good or better than anything else in the air, save the UFOs that have attacked Tolvis VII in recent years. The country's pilot corps is also extremely well trained and professional.
The Greater Tolvic Realm or GTR is the youngest of the world's superpowers, and is similar to the TUSR in that it came into existence as a result of an internal revolution in an existing empire. The GTR was originally the Kranstadt Empire, a monarchy which existed up until about 40 years ago, when democratic reforms combined with an economic crisis to create the Kranstadt Republic. The Republic only lasted about a decade, and was marked with economic and political strife. A popular movement known as the Tolvic Party eventually came to power, based on the idea that they would remake the struggling country into successor to ancient Tolv, one of Tolvis VII's earliest civilizations. This was predicated on the idea that the people of Kranstadt were in fact the direct descendants of the Tolv civilization, and were thus destined to rule over all nations and peoples as inferiors. Kranstadt was thus renamed as Tolv, and over the past 20 years the country has been aggressively expansionist, absorbing neighboring territories which contain populations of "Tolvic people" and establishing the Greater Tolvic Realm.
The GTR is notable for having a powerful industrial base and a strong military; its aircraft, in particular, are regarded to be some of the best on Tolvis VII, and the nation regularly engages in displays of its technological might. These displays often take the form of aircraft of record-breaking size, range and speed, and the GTR is known for making some of the finest transport aircraft in service anywhere in the world. Its fighter aircraft are somewhat lacking, although pioneering research into gas turbine and rocket propulsion promises to change that.
In general, the GTR is respected on the world stage, but also deeply mistrusted due to their nakedly expansionist policies and widespread xenophobia. The country has tensions with many of its neighbors, strengthening the position of the Ebran Empire, which has formed a series of alliances with smaller, threatened nations as a check against the GTR's power.
The Empire of the Cipangs
The Empire of the Cipangs is among Tolvis VII's oldest continuously existent states. A constitutional monarchy with a dynastic lineage stretching back over 1,200 years, it was originally established on the Cipang islands, an archipelago in the eastern hemisphere. For many centuries, the Cipanese were content to rule over their islands and shunned outside contact, but after a trade mission by the USH and Ebran Empire forced them to open their borders 100 years ago, they rapidly modernized and established a sphere of influence. 50 years ago, a military-backed nationalist government came to power, and within a decade the Cipanese had conquered their ailing neighbor to the west, the even older "Middle Empire," which was in the midst of a civil war. Now with mainland holdings, the Cipanese began a campaign of rapid expansion, and swiftly established an extensive network of holdings in the eastern hemisphere.
Cipang has a strong military, with particular emphasis on its navy. The Imperial Cipanese Naval Air Service is one of the most respected and feared air forces in the world, being highly trained, experienced from their wars of conquest and equipped with modern aircraft as good as anything in the world. Modern observers have noted that Cipanese aircraft have less of an emphasis on speed than some other nations, preferring lightness and maneuverability.
The Empire of the Cipangs, despite its rapid growth, is not as heavily industrialized as some of its contemporaries, with only the TUSR lagging behind it. Despite this, the gap between it and the next most industrialized nation is closing rapidly, and Cipang is predicted to become a commercial powerhouse in the decades to come, with an economy to match its lofty military ambitions.
The Ebran Empire
The Ebran Empire is a Tolvite superpower with holdings scattered across the globe, with its central government located on the island of Great Ebran, off the west coast of the major eastern continent. Once a relatively isolated nation, the Ebran Empire expanded through a combination of commercial acumen and military prowess, and until the end of the previous century was considered to be in ascendancy. Unfortunately for them, their rate of expansion has long since tapered off, and they increasingly face rebellion in their overseas colonies by native populations seeking self-determination.
The Ebran Empire, despite its recent decline, is widely considered to be the lesser of many of the current evils in the world, and is also still undeniably a military juggernaut, with arguably the planet's most powerful oceangoing navy and a highly professional army. The Ebran Empire is considered to be the best check against the expansion of the Greater Tolvic Realm, and maintains a network of alliances with smaller nations bordering the GTR.
The Ebran Empire is also known as the preeminent aerospace power in the region, if not globally. They maintain a large fleet of helium-filled airships to link the far-flung corners of their empire, and are known for heavier-than-air craft which are both fast and nimble. Like the GTR, they are in the process of investigating the potential of gas turbines and rocket motors for aircraft propulsion.
The Galanian Republic & Others
Although the 5 previously mentioned superpowers tend to dominate global geopolitics on Tolvis VII, there are a number of other, somewhat smaller state actors which have their own influence on the international community. Chief among these is arguably the Galanian Republic, a large country which has historically been the rival of the Ebran Empire. Galania is regarded as a center of art and culture, and has perhaps the 2nd largest standing military on its continent after the GTR, which it has grown to be bitter rivals with, allowing much of its animosity against Ebran to be put on the back burner in the meantime. Galania maintains its own small network of overseas colonies, although unlike some other nations it considers these territories to be provinces of Galania itself, rather than foreign nations under Galanian rule. Regardless, it is also beginning to see challenges to its administration of these territories by locals seeking independence. After the Ebran Empire and the USH, Galania is the 3rd largest contributor to SHADE in terms of personnel and materiel.
There are any number of smaller states on Tolvis VII, including a few minor colonial powers. These generally fall into the sphere of influence of one of the major superpowers, although a growing "non-aligned" movement headed by Galania has been gathering steam for several years now.
LOSS & SHADE
- LOSS & SHADE -
SHADE, known in long-form as the Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Establishment, is an international cooperative defense organization formed and staffed by the member nations of the League of Sovereign States (LoSS), an international legislative body. Formed in the immediate aftermath of the first UFO attacks on Tolvite settlements, it was and is tasked with providing a meaningful defense against alien aggression, as well as establishing diplomatic relations with friendly off-world organizations. Despite some large early setbacks, SHADE has managed to achieve a measure of the former, using reverse-engineered Galactic technology to leapfrog the efforts of individual nations. SHADE has made efforts to provide these innovations to its member nations, although mass adoption of certain technologies has been slow, largely due to the need to radically upgrade major industries.
SHADE is staffed by military and scientific personnel from almost every nation, and tolerates no bigotry or favoritism among its ranks as a matter of policy. SHADE also employs alien mercenaries to fight on its behalf, although this fact is generally kept quiet.
Notably, SHADE represents every Tolvite superpower save the GTR, which forfeited membership after its representative walked out of the LoSS assembly. The GTR and its allies run their own competing program, the Tolvic Anti-Alien Bastion (TAAB), which has thus far had far less success fighting off alien incursions than SHADE.
SHADE has a global network of offices, listening posts and bases, although its main headquarters is located beneath the grounds of a motion picture company - Straker Studios - on the island of Great Ebran in the Ebran Empire. The organization is led by General Johan Straker, a USH-born military officer who lost his spouse in an alien raid.
THE "UFO" THREAT
- THE "UFO" THREAT -
Alien attacks against the nations of Tolvis VII primarily come in the form of slaver attacks by a number of criminal organizations which have banded together to undertake slaving operations on the planet, as well as in several nearby systems which are similarly cut off from mainstream Galactic civilization. In competition with SHADE and TAAB, they have established hidden bases across Tolvis VII, as well as on its moon and on several other planets in the system; they also have a large network of agents to spy on and manipulate various governments, corporations and other organizations. Although they constantly face the risk of having their operations discovered and disrupted by the locals, the collection and export of untraceable slaves is too profitable to abandon.
The various slaver gangs operating on Tolvis VII utilize Galactic standard technology, including weapons, ships and other equipment far in advance of anything possessed by the locals. That said, the Tolvites are rapidly catching up...
- TECHNOLOGY -
The natives of Tolvis VII are at a late pre-atomic stage in their technological development. Although they have not yet achieved nuclear fission on their own, and are only beginning to investigate the potential of rocket propulsion and gas turbine engines, most nations on the planet have built remarkably advanced and robust automotive and aviation industries. Widespread electrification has been achieved in most countries as well, meaning that more people than ever before are able to enjoy modern convenience at home and at work.
Limited exposure to Galactic technology has caused the Tolvites to see scientific advancement a little more rapid than might have been expected. Studying alien artifacts, Tolvite scientists have managed to replicate certain items, or at least come up with local equivalents; reverse-engineering of captured blasters, for example, has allowed them to create crude beam tubes, which are beginning to enter widespread military service, although slugthrowers remain the planet's dominant form of ranged weapon. Study of advanced alloys and plastics in crashed alien ships has likewise pushed forward Tolvite material science by decades, if not centuries. Study of droid circuitry has even resulted in the creation of primitive "thinking engines" and automata, although these are nowhere near ready for the general public.
In addition to home-grown technology, Tolvite expeditions in captured alien ships have resulted in limited contact with the wider Galaxy, allowing the planet's inhabitants to import certain technologies they cannot yet make themselves. There is, of course, a concerted effort underway to replicate alien technology, both in the form of international cooperative efforts and private programs on the national or corporate level.
Tolvis VII has a level of technology roughly equivalent to our planet Earth in the early-to-mid 1930s. Cars, electricity and other modern inventions are just beginning to become commonplace, and aviation technology is proceeding at a rapid pace, although fixed landing gear and biplanes are still quite common, rather than the sleek, low-wing monoplanes and such that characterized WWII. There are also some anachronisms, of course; limited exposure to Galactic technology has caused the Tolvites to develop some new technologies reminiscent of sci-fi of the 1930s, including jets, rockets, rayguns and primitive robots, although these are by no means widespread. The planet's aesthetic is overall reminiscent of 1930s pulp sci-fi, such as Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds.
- INTENT -
To create a planet with a more or less dieselpunk aesthetic, representative of the pre-hyperdrive "primitive" worlds to be found in the Galaxy where mainstream Galactic civilization has not yet reached. I was also inspired by Gerry Anderson's UFO series in the way that this planet's people deal with the aliens who do visit them. Finally, this planet would also be tied into the backstory of Helen Holcomb, who was kidnapped from here.