First up for today, it’s part III of the series on gaming in the Old Republic era – in this case covering the general nature of the Galactic Republic as a government, some of it’s long-term projects, currency in the galaxy, and extra-galactic exploration.
The Galactic Republic has never been a particularly tightly-organized institution. For the most part, worlds govern themselves, while the Republic and the Senate attempt to negotiate disputes, provide some sort of a system of currency exchange, discourage wars, superweapons, and a few of the more hideous interstellar vices, regulate trade and interstellar law, sponsor exploration, and run starports. (In theory, a formally licensed starport is subject to Republic Law and is the domain of Republic Law Enforcement rather than local planetary law. In practice, enforcement is usually farmed out to the locals). In the case of major attacks on the Core Worlds, the Republic deploys its (relatively small) officer corps and peacekeeper forces to coordinate the forces contributed by individual member worlds. Sponsoring a few organizations – the galactic archives, the Jedi order, the exploration corps, and a few long-term projects (such as the galactic communications net), is distinctly secondary – as well as being not much of a burden on the resources of a galaxy.
That isn’t all that ambitious an agenda, but there’s something to be said for knowing your limits: the Republic has been around, functioning, and reasonably stable for more than 25,000 years – longer than many of its member civilizations have lasted.
Some of the projects that have been undertaken have included:
The Galactic Mapping Project and Exploration Service, while (even after 11,000 years) nowhere near complete, has still proven invaluable in setting up trade routes, tracing back the sources of attacks on the Republic, and locating various resources – including liveable planets.
The Galactic Subspace Communications Net is another ongoing project. While some of the more tightly-grouped major worlds enjoy fairly good communications, most of the less-important worlds can only send and receive limited amounts of data – most of which goes to vital services, trade and emergency information, and similar things. Getting private communications into the pipeline is quite expensive even for small files. Live voice communications may be quite impossible to arrange at times.
The Galactic Hyperspace Beacon Project has gradually added ways to easily locate your position and marked out safe hyperspace routes, vastly easing and accelerating interstellar travel for those worlds which have had their local routes surveyed and buoyed. Worlds which cannot afford the (rather high) costs compete against others for priority ratings from the project.
Other – more “local” – projects have included several solar-engineering, planet-moving, terraforming, and orbiting dyson-sphere construction projects, including intercepting several inspiraling neutron stars before they could trigger gamma-ray bursters and devastate major areas of the galaxy. Unfortunately, the Force-based limitations on self-replicating, self-repairing, and self-organizing machinery means that such projects must either employ massive numbers of people and consume considerable resources OR that they must be personally supervised by Force-users – although both Jedi and Sith can serve equally well in that capacity. This, of course, has provided a major impetus towards the continuing support of the Jedi order and has prompted numerous calls for tighter regulation of that order.
Currency varies wildly across the galaxy. Most planets use local physical currencies, larger and more advanced planets usually use electronic banking systems as well. A few worlds rely on barter, on trading in property-fractions, or on even stranger systems, while a few species don’t have any concept of “money” at all. It’s best to assume that the local currency may be VERY weird – especially if the planet is embedded in an area of firm Republic or Hierarchy control; if the local currency wasn’t weird in that situation, it will probably be absorbed by the interstellar system.
In general, interstellar transactions are usually carried out electronically (occasionally by actually shipping currency around, but that is very rare). The value of Republic – or Sith Hierarchy – credits tends to vary wildly with the amount of offworld trade a planet has, who’s in charge in the area, local prejudices, and interstellar events. If you’re planning to travel widely, or to cross the lines of control, it’s best to carry several different currencies, to stock up with materials of intrinsic value, and possibly to carry some items for barter – which is a part of what fuels the interstellar drug trade: high values, easy portability, easy testing (with current analysis systems), and widely desired. On many worlds, drugs are a de facto currency. Sadly, large sums in Sith Heirarchy Marks or Republic Credits can cause problems in the opposing domains – although, since the Hierarchy is the upstart, Republic Credits are still accepted in much of its territory – if at a steep discount.
The Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy:
According to those who embrace this (lunatic) “theory”, the entire ancient Sith/Jedi conflict is being constantly stirred up and manipulated in order to allow the Elders of Trion to systematically manipulate currency exchange ratios between planets. In the pursuit of this plot, there have been tens of thousands of years of war, death, and terror across the entire galaxy, all in the service of ever-greater profits. Ultimately, the Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy aims to enslave the entire galaxy!
Everything is clearly laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Trion – a book which has been almost totally suppressed save in bootleg copies that disguise themselves by substituting local references for the true ones!
Most people think that this entire idea is quite mad – but, given the size of the galaxy, there are billions of people out there who will swear that it is quite true – and who will support a thriving industry of fear-mongers who exploit such beliefs.
Extragalactic Exploration has been fairly limited. While Hyperdrive is more than fast enough (although mysterious slowdowns in hyperdrive speeds have been reported to occur in deep intergalactic space) – galaxies are relatively close together compared to their sizes, and hyperdrive can cross a galaxy in a matter of days. Unfortunately, fast hyperdrive travel relies on well-charted routes and a catalog of objects that might interfere with the trip – most of which are spotted visually. While interstellar objects are far more common than intergalactic ones, most of them are near-impossible to spot. Between brown dwarves, dim ejected stars, rogue planetoids, and similar obstacles – as well as the numerous unexplored areas available in the galaxy – few expeditions have made much progress.
Still, over thousands of years, there have been quite a few attempts, and reports on most of the nearby dwarf galaxies are available. One was even colonized by the Ordaltha civilization, apparently for some sort of religious reason which made them willing to accept a substantial casualty rate during the trip. Another of the nearby dwarf galaxies seemed to be exclusively full of mega-fauna jungle-planets, although there were buried traces of extinct civilizations there. Sadly, complications ensued on that expedition, and only a few survivors got back with their (somewhat contradictory) reports. Another expedition reported an encounter with some sort of intergalactic predator-thing – but that report is so old as to be semi-legendary, and is widely dismissed as a galactic legend. A number of inhabitable solar systems have been reported in the depths between galaxies, and make superb secret bases and refuges – but for that very reason, few exact routes or coordinates are available.