|(1525 B645896-A||302 Sw M0V)|
PRIMARY: "Rotsonnen" Spectral class M0V. ICN S9J0705M0. Mass 0.46 standard. Stellar diameter 0.80 standard. Luminosity 0.08 standard.
PLANETARY SYSTEM: Six major bodies. Two gas giants. Two significantly inhabited worlds (1, Sting; 3, RS1056-1).
1 STING: Mean orbital radius of primary 54.95 million kilometers (0.367 AU). Eccentricity 0.005. Period 55.08 days. Diameter 9,581 kilometers. Density 1.07 standard. Mass 0.45 standard. Mean surface gravity 0.79G. Rotational period 25 hours 1 minute 55 seconds (retrograde). Axial inclination 19° 11' 43". Albedo 0.168 ... Surface atmospheric pressure 0.70 atm; composition - oxygen-nitrogen mix tainted with chlorine and other heavy gasses. Hydrographic percentage 52%; composition - liquid water. Mean surface temperature 13.9°C.
Located in the heart of the Sword Worlds in the Spinward Marches lies the unremarkable world of Sting. Sting orbits the M0 main sequence star Rotsonnen. This world is the ancestoral seat of Baron Karlstad and is home to 300 million people. Local inhabitants refer to themselves as "Stingers".
Sting appears to be a normal, Earth-like world orbiting a salmon coloured star. But, as with all planets, Sting has its own idiosyncratic characteristics: While most planets orbiting this close to its primary star are tidally locked Sting has a retrograde spin. There are also signs of geologically recent meteor cratering (this is not believed to be connected with the Ancients).
Today, Sting is half land, half sea ... with seasonal polar ice caps and a healthy ecosystem. The intergration of terran domesticated animals has been successful (with minor genetic modification to cope with the tainted atmosphere), and the burgeoning sea life is edible and neutritious. The chlorine atmospheric taint is the result of biological action by Sting's native plant life, and is on the decline as terran forms come to dominate the biosphere.
Many of the regions on Sting have names of Terran origin. One ocean, isolated from the main body of water, is called the Baltic Ocean. The surrounding land is called New Denmark. The large mountain range in the southern hemisphere is called the Olypian Mountains. The land mass west of the Olympian Mountains that joins New Denmark is called Siberia, and north-east of the Olypian Mountains is called Arabia.
New Denmark is predominately a mix of open steppe and forest with a few mountain ranges (including the Cresant Mountains east of Kiel, and Mount Muldoon just south of Kiel). Siberia is arid, with vast tracts of polar tundra to the south. Arabia is also arid, being covered in the main by equatorial desert. The so-called Northern Ocean and Southern Ocean are linked under the northern polar ice cap.
Sting was settled, along with the other Sword Worlds, by Solomani exiles in circa -400 to -200. The original settlers of the Sword Worlds were derived from Germanic and Nordic stock (old Terran cultural groups), but these terms have only linguistic meaning by this time. The official language of the Sword Worlds is a variant of Icelandic, borrowing heavily from other Nordic languages as well as from Germanic tongues and from Vilani. Many personal and place names on Sting tend towards a Germanic origin. Visitors will find Galanglic is also widely understood in government and mercantile circles.
In keeping with the Sword Worlds model Sting's society is militaristic and male-dominated. Sword Worlders live in large extended households and Sting is the most extreme example of this lifestyle. A typical Sting "Family" has 20 - 120 members including servants (who also live with the Family). Such a Family is patriarchal and live together in a housing complex ... not dis-similar to a Roman-style villa of Old Earth. Domestic life centers around a weekly half-day banquet (and then living off of leftovers and snacks between times). However, these banquets are more than just social occasions: it is during these banquets that most Family (ie. political) business is conducted. Visitors to Sting who are invited to a weekly banquet should attend (or risk causing offense) but must be extremely careful what they say during the festivities. Additionally, it should be noted that in cases of extreme social blunders formal duelling is not an uncommon outcome and will usually occur within one week of an incident.
The typical Sword Worlder diet is heavy on meats: lamb, beef, pork, goose, venison, rabbit, and fish. Meats are traditionally boiled in cauldrons or roasted on spits. Seasoning includes hot mustard, juniper, cumin, and horseradish. Milk and milk products (butter and hard cheese) are common, and milk is a typical non-alcoholic drink. Breads (called "füllen") are flat, unleavened, and made of barley, rye, and peas. Vegetables include tubers (potatoes, swede, etc ... grown immense in zero-G hydroponics) and cabbage. Also spinach, shallots, and garlic. Pasta is not unheard of for snacks.
A Sting banquet is not a graceful event, but often seems more like a ribald party or medievil banquet. The meal is presented by cullenary staff on several communal platters from which participants load up their own plates. The platters will be piled high with a selection of spit-roasted meats (not fish, carved into thick slices with plenty of animal fat and served steaming hot), and 'glivenn' (a mixture of potato, boiled cabbage, and swede). Füllen is also present as a table 'snack' between servings and to sop up meat juices from one's plate. Overindulgeance is expected, and most who attend a banquet need to sleep it off afterwards.
For Sting inhabitants who (for whatever reason) cannot attend their weekly banquet, an alternative meal of either sea bass (with glivenn and a sauce) or barbecued swordfish (with honey glaze, peppers and lime) is typical. These can be served in smaller amounts suitable for one or two people. (This does not include the cullenary staff of a household who prepare and serve a banquet, they eat at the banquet as well as serve it.)
In stark contrast there are no formal meals or mealtimes between banquets. Stingers generally have small snacks whenever they feel hungry (at any time of the day or night). Most common is to take a portion of the leftover meats from a banquet, and reheat by boiling together in a pot or small cauldron with shallots and garlic. Leftover glivenn is served cold mixed with plenty of mustard. This is washed down with cold milk and often consumed in solitary or (occasionally) in groups of two or three. There are other non-banquet items (pasta, savoury pastries, and dishes from many worlds) but, again, these are typically eaten in solitary and on an ad-hoc basis. Except in the immediate vicinity of a downport there are no restaurants, cafes, or public eating shops anywhere on the planet.
For outdoor workers (such as farmers), hunters, campers, soldiers on patrol, etc, a popular travelling meal is a "corneish" ... a mixture of chopped leftover meats and glivenn, seasoned heavily with black pepper, wrapped in füllen (a bit like a burrito). A recent fad for corneishes with an alternative cheese and tomato filling is sweeping the youth in Kiel ... but the older generation refuse to accept these as true corneish.
While many different alcoholic drinks are available, the upper classes and aristocracy of Sting drink "amber" (a mixture of equal parts rum, brandy and triple sec) ... served straight. Typically it is drunk in company (such as during a banquet) and in large quantities. An alternative alcoholic drink to amber for the lower classes is honey mead. Chilled milk is the normal non-alcoholic drink of choice for all classes ... caffinated drinks (teas, coffee, sodas, etc) are virtually non-existant on Sting.
Sting's local law level is rated at 6 and this generally applies to all areas other than personal freedom, weapon ownership, and trade. Laws pertaining to personal freedoms (especially who you can associate with) are stricter at level 8 for men and level 10 for women. Meanwhile weapon ownership is generally more liberal at 3 for men and 4 for women in public, or 10 for both men and women during a banquet. (The wepon restriction during a banquet includes swords and daggers but does not apply to cutlery. However, fighting during a banquet is completely taboo ... passionate disagreements and heated arguments result in a formal challenge to sword duel within a week.) Trade law is rated at level 11 ... not due to restrictions (which are more in line with the general law level 6), but to a system of excessive red-tape and paperwork.
In the Sword Worlds Confederation each member world has almost complete autonomy: Sting maintains a separate military force, passes its own laws, and regulates its own internal affairs. Each member world has its own overlord, a Baron and/or Count drawn from the Sword Worlds nobility, who represent that world in the Confederation Council (sometimes called the Council of Counts or "Grafrat"). The Council handles interworld trade, diplomatic relations with outside powers, and adjudicates interworld disputes.
Unlike the Imperium, a Baron is not necessarily inferior to a Count. There is a lot of overlap between the two titles. The term "Baron" denotes membership in one of the Old Houses who first settled the area. It is usually used by the head of the household, and sometimes by his immediate heir.
A Count is a member of the Confederation Council. In the early days of the Sacnoth Dominate all Council members were Barons, but through the centuries some of the Old Houses have fallen, while new ones have appeared. Thus the head of a New House has no official title unless that house is on the Council ... in which case the head is called "Count", and a Baron may or may not be a Count.
Of the twenty Great Houses four are not run by Barons, and six are not run by Counts.
House Karlstad was one of the original settling families. The current head of House Karlstad, Baron Hermann Karlstad, is the Count of Sting. While relatively well off, House Karlstad has little in the way of offworld corporate interests.
During the Fourth Frontier War (1082-1084), Baron Hermann Karlstad, then a Major in the Sword Worlds Defence Force, took a small expeditionary force and recaptured the Entropic worlds from the Darrians. For this achievement, Hermann was awarded the Sword Worlds' highest medal: the Gold Cross.
Another member of House Karlstad is Karl Mayer. Karl Anders hault-Raine Mayer is the son of Baron Saemund hault-Raine Mayer (the Count of Sacnoth) and Lady Guilda Schnorr-Mayer. He has an older brother, Calder William hault-Raine Mayer, who is the heir to House Mayer of Sacnoth. In 1076 (at age 10) he was fostered by Baron Hermann Karlstad and his wife according to Sword World tradition for second sons.
In 1098 civil war broke out on Joyeuse. The Sword Worlds corporation Vereinigt Macht und Verschiffer (VMV) ousted the incumbant House Kopleck and placed Eyolfsson (the corporation's CEO) in power. Despite her own treatment by House Kopleck, Liesel Kopleck (a distant relative of House Kopleck's leadership, and a friend of House Karlstad) asked for aid against the VMV corporation. Baron Karlstad sent his house cavalry led by his two natural sons, but this unit was wiped out and both sons were killed. The Baron's heartbroken wife (their mother) died shortly later.
Additionally, Baron Karlstad has a sister, Hanna, whose husband (Guilbert Bergen) is also dead as a result of Joyeuse civil war. Hanna Bergen has a fully grown son called Pitr Bergen and he now stands to inherit control of House Karlstad.
In recent times it could be said that the Karlstads have tended to have a hands-off policy towards String's internal running. In reality Baron Karlstad has been distracted by Confederation politics. Meanwhile, without proper leadership in day-to-day matters the running of local affairs has fallen increasingly to an uncontrolled bureaucracy. Sting's domestic affairs are now choking in red-tape and paperwork and the local economy is on the verge of collapse.
Sting's unit of currency is the Krona (Kr) and usually trades for around Kr1.82 per Imperial credit. All offworld traders must register in person at the Sting Trade Commission Center before any business can be negotiated.
Sting has one highport and three downports which (combined) handle an average of over 41,000 passengers and 165,000 dtons of freight every week. 40% of this is transacted with Sacnoth, 20% with Tyrfing, 19% with Beater, the rest is spread around 12 other neighbouring systems (including the Imperial system of Adabicci). Trade with Gram accounts for only 3.4%, and Narsil (economic powerhouse of the Sword Worlds) for only 2.0%. Trade with Joyeuse averages around 90 passengers and 350 dtons of freight a week ... but most are refugees fleeing from VMV tyranny.
Kiel Downport (Class C) has the Sting Trade Commission Center and the planet's top commercial robotics lab nearby. The downport's largest landing pad can take a ship upto 2000 dtons in size. Landing fees are Kr200 for the first six days and then Kr40 per day thereafter (per 1000 dtons of ship or part thereof). There is an import tax of 5% of good's value, and an export tax of 2% of good's value. Consumer goods for sale in Kiel startown (and elsewhere nearby) have a 15% sales tax, the same goods within the starport itself are exempt from sales tax (mentioned loudly in adverts) but have a 2-12% more expensive base price. Businesses are also exempt from paying sales tax ... if they keep all receipts they can claim the tax back from the Sting Trade Commission (in person).
Lubeck Downport (Class C) has the main government offices as well as the University of Sting nearby. The downport's largest landing pad can take a ship upto 4000 dtons in size. Landing fees are Kr200 for every six days or part thereof (per 1000 dtons of ship or part thereof). There is an import tax of 4% of good's value, and an export tax of 4% of good's value. Consumer goods for sale in Lubeck startown (and elsewhere nearby) have a 17.5% sales tax, the same goods within the starport itself are exempt from sales tax (mentioned loudly in adverts) but have a 3-18% more expensive base price. Businesses are also exempt from paying sales tax ... if they keep all receipts they can claim the tax back from the Sting Trade Commission (in person).
Wismar Downport (Class B) has the Sting Military Base. The downport's largest landing pad can take a ship upto 6000 dtons in size. Landing fees are Kr20 per day (per 1000 dtons of ship or part thereof). There is no import or export tax if the value of goods traded is under W100,000. Trading over this value is prohibited. Consumer goods for sale in Wismar (and elsewhere nearby) are free from any sales tax, but the same goods within the starport itself have a 1-6% more expensive base price.
Regardless of which downport (if any) is used any personal income (profits from trading, or any employment) are subject to 25% tax on the first Kr70,000 made in any one calander year and 40% tax on income above that. [Example: if Eneri made a total of Kr100,000 income in a year he would owe 25% on the first Kr70,000 (Kr17,500) and 40% on rest (Kr12,000) = Kr29,500 total tax owed.] While losses do not grant any form of payout, losses from one visit can be used to offset the tax owed on profits from another visit provided they are both in the same year. Trading companies registered with the Sting Trade Commission (for a fee of Kr1000 per year) are exempt from this tax and instead pay a flat 25% corporation tax ... but can only have income from direct trading activities. Any tax owed is expected upon departure. If a merchant takes employees (bodyguards, etc) with him out of the starport he may find that those employees owe tax on that portion of their employment spent onplanet.
Any agricultural produce being imported is subject to a 30 day quarentine (and government inspection), for livestock this period is raised to 180 days.
Although Sting has an abundance of various metal ores these have not yet been exploited to any great extent (though there are some mines and some of the refined metal is shipped offworld). Stings largest economic activity is in agriculture: both fish and meat are shipped to other Confederation members ... with salmon exports being the single largest item.
In addition to fishing and farming, the population manufactures a range of mid-tech personal weapons (rifles, pistols, etc), and also hardcopy document material (paper).
The current official census of Sting reports the population as 311,338,000. There are 56 cities with a population of about 5 million ... almost all of which are coastal. This leaves the interior of the land masses free for farming and hunting. Of these 56 cities 3 are significant for having a downport:
Lubeck: Lubeck is one of the earlier cities built on Sting. At its heart is the Baronial Residence surrounded by a square kilometer of park (off limits to the general public). Beyond this is the rest of the city, and to the south is the downport. While Lubeck has its fair share of shipping companies, brokers, and the like, much of the city's business revolves around Sting's domestic government. The mighty and sprawling Department of Social Welfare, the Department of Health and Employment, and the Department of Agriculture all have their office complexes here ... each a mini-citadel brimming with clerks.
Kiel: Kiel is a newer city than Lubeck (about 500 years old) but it has seen some phenomenal growth in recent decades. Many of it buildings are less than 50 years old and its downtown area has been completely remodeled. The source of this 'boom town' prosperity has been the creation of the Sting Trade Commission with its headquarters in Kiel. Prior to the Commission each of the downports were completely independant of each other (with different regulations and legal codes). Now, under a single organisation the operation of each of the downports is in the process of being harmonised (though there is still some way to go). As a 'temporary' measure (lasting 33 years) all offworld traders must report (in person) to the Commission's Center in Kiel before even beginning business negotiations. This has led to a siphoning off of trade from the other downports into Kiel. Today Kiel is a trade hub filled with shipping companies, brokers, trade and commercial lawyers, and other related businesses.
Wismar: Less concerned with interstellar trade than Lubeck or Kiel, Wismar is the military 'capitol' of Sting. The very first city to be built on the planet, much of its original architecture has been lost over the years (some were destroyed in military action, some just became obsolete) and replaced with newer buildings. The resulting appearence is a giant public military base where every building is a mismatch to those surrounding it ... a mismatch is age, style, or even technology. The streets of Wismar are significantly wider than in most over cities, and military parades of tanks are common. In addition to the Sting Planetary Navy Base (adjacent to the downport), the city also hosts the Sting Army Headquarters and the Sting Military Academy.