Star Wars – Skilled Codex Powers II: Shifting Techniques

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Past the instinctive and basic uses of the three Codex skills – Phasing, Shifting, and Tempus – there are a variety of more advanced powers that are only available to those with monotalents or actual Codex skills.

Shifting is the art of playing with probabilities and timelines. In many ways it’s the most tenuous of the Codex powers; most of it’s effects are relatively subtle. Still, like most things to do with the Codex, there are always exceptions.

  • Assess Odds is the simplest skilled application of Shifting; it simply allows the user to survey the myriad timelines of the future and quote the odds. The better the user rolls, the more precise he or she can be. Sadly, the same detached viewpoint that allows the user to survey a huge number of timelines makes it impossible to focus on any one of them, including the one the user currently occupies – so while Assess Odds may tell you that there’s a 40% chance of finding Darth Cheesy on the ship’s bridge, it’s telling you that “in 40% of the nearby timelines surveyed where you went to the bridge, you found Darth Cheesy was there”. It’s still possible that, in YOUR timeline, Mr Cheesy took a shuttle down to a bar fifteen minutes before you asked. That’s why, as a rule, Assess Odds works best with simple, immediate, plans; any future that looks really probable, and is more than a few hours out at best, is usually an indication that something is massively meddling anyway. On the bright side, using this particular discipline takes no time at all and is almost perfectly safe; only a truly catastrophic and unlikely check can cause problems – usually of the “psychic exchange with a counterpart” variety.
  • Hexcraft is the art of causing a locally temporal divergence – splitting off a private or near-private timeline – and then patching it back into normal reality before it expands very far. This is one of the most dramatic possible shifting stunts; you can use it to momentarily vanish into a divergent reality of your own, move, and snap back into existence – or to cause wildly improbable events, such as the molecules of a metal door abruptly crystallizing. Hexcraft is awesomely powerful, but is also perhaps the single most dangerous Codex technique; causing wildly improbable events is bad enough – but at least you’re carrying everyone in the immediate vicinity along for the ride, and their presence will help re-anchor you to your original timeline or provide a little company if you fail to do so. Splitting off a private timeline and then trying to re-anchor it into the original is a feat that even masters of the codex treat with great caution, as even a “success” is quite likely to amount to simply vanishing from your original timeline to reappear in a very similar one – often one where there’s a vacancy to be filled.
  • Navigation is essentially the art of forced prophecy – constantly nudging events towards a desired outcome. Unlike the more dramatic arts of causing unlikely events, Navigation constantly tips the odds just a little towards a desired end result. Unfortunately, Navigation takes the path of least resistance; if you want to “stay in town safely overnight”, you probably didn’t have “get arrested and be put in solitary confinement to await a trial next week” in mind as the method – but if that’s one of the easiest ways for you to get what you set your mind on, it’s one of the options that events will tip towards. Fortunately, the “Monkey’s Paw” effect can be easily minimized; try to push towards “all of us surviving this battle” or “doing well in the tournament” or any other relatively generic, short-term, goal – and you and your friends will enjoy some good luck (in the form of small dice pool bonuses – or perhaps a single larger one for very short term goals, such as “laying in a good course”.
  • Optimization is the fine art of scanning related timelines looking for things you can do that will improve your odds of success in an endeavor. The trouble here is the same as it is with Assess Odds; you’re scanning related timelines that are ahead of yours, not the actual future – and so you may wind up with complete misinformation. You want to get to Alderaan? Your powers might tell you to (1) tuck an oxygen mask in your pocket, (2) spend the trip taking an art course, and (3) pick up a complete “Military History of the Fifth Sith War”. Because, in some timelines, those things helped. Perhaps in one group of alternate timelines you were killed by lack of oxygen during a pirate attack, in another the art class led to an assignation in a lifepod with a budding young artist of your species during an orbital collision, and because in another that book collection convinced an official that you really were just a collector of antique weapons. There’s no guarantee that any of that will actually happen to YOU, but the cost is usually pretty small and such things do come in useful often enough to make the discipline worth using. Pulling out just the small item you need can be pretty handy.
  • Overlay is the art of showing people the things that might have been if they had taken another course – momentarily pushing their minds into contact with the greater universe. This can be used as a kind of stunning attack (although this is not especially wise, as “victims” may gain useful insights), but is principally useful as a method of changing someone’s beliefs and attitudes. You may not know how they’ll react – but if they’re being a giant pain in the ass at the moment, you don’t have a lot to lose.
  • Temporal Perception allows the user to project his or her consciousness across timelines, briefly sharing in other lives and witnessing what might have been. Sadly it is one of the easiest Codex powers to interfere with, since it relies on some very delicate adjustments indeed. Still, if an opponent is NOT actively interfering with it, Temporal Perception can be used to continue thinking while in stasis, to tap into skills and information to which the user has no normal access, and even to help guide a controlled departure via Phasing for another world which has caught the user’s fancy. Unfortunately, Temporal Perception is one of the few Codex powers which tends to directly undermine the user’s sanity: interacting with dozens of other realms that are not there, hearing their voices, and seeing visions of what might have been – especially when timelines split or merge – tends to disrupt the user’s ability to interact properly with the timeline he or she is actually on.

Star Wars – the Twelve Moons of Varen II

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Note: Over the centuries, most of these worlds have had many names in various tongues and with various factions. The most common name is noted in brackets, but the names of the families and the orbital order is far more constant.

Varen IIa – Iresha Family (Am Mu)

The Iresha family moon is a major center of commerce and trade in Varen space. Rich in precious metals and supplied with ample energy due to it’s proximity to Varen II’s magnetic fields, the moon has become a major manufacturing center in the system. Goods manufactured here tend to have a significant price premium versus other similar goods, but are typically made with the best materials and standards of quality available. While the moon is capable of meeting all calorie needs via manufactured calories, the metal rich soil and water precludes more conventional farming. Importation of food is a significant sink of wealth on the moon and is a sign of wealth and class.

A focus on grandiose architecture gives the various cities a majestic air. Towering skyscrapers, lavish parks, sprawling estates, and highly stylized designs rule the skyline with each city having a particular flavor and style. It is commonly said one could identify the city a building is located in merely by how it looks. Use of artificial gravity in building construction has been banned though as a power failure in one district resulted in the deaths of over three thousand.

The Iresha family runs the largest bank on the moon and frequently has it’s hands on most every major enterprise in the system. While actually defaulting on a loan with the Iresha typically has dire consequences, the family bank typically will provide a number of alternatives to cash repayment for those unable to pay. Indeed, these alternative payment options are made available to all, so that even the poor are able to procure loans.

Varen IIb – Cantel Family (Inkess)

The Cantel family moon is a volcanic water world. Floating coral reefs provide dry ground for the inhabiting land dwellers to live on. The aquatic Cantel and their base species (the Lotados) typically live beneath the surface in sea floor cities. Interaction with surface dwellers occurs via specially made chambers in the islands or via communication systems. Lotadas can be found in the water areas of every moon in the Varen system, but only really participate in the political process on the Cantel Moon, where there are enough of them to be influential.

The Cantel and the associated Lotadas are largely involved in the aquatic infrastructure projects of the other Varen families. Deep sea equipment is manufactured here and then flown to the appropriate moon or planet along with a team of techs and droids to finish installation.

The Lotados (and by definition, the Cantel) are an aquatic species vaguely resembling long necked fish. They originally evolved in the ecosystems surrounding underwater volcanic vents and have developed a technological society since then. Their technology has allowed them to colonize waters far from the volcanic depths of their ancestors, and the species exists in a largely peaceful isolation on a number of worlds on the outer rim in the depths of the oceans. The Cantel have been steadily bringing the Lotados into a mutually beneficial relationship with the surface dwellers of the Varen Commonwealth since the family joined the Varen Council long ago.

Varen IIc – Rote Family (Luzel)

The Rote family moon is also known as the Moon of Lights. The use of holo projectors has become a ubiquitous art form locally and is incorporated into the architecture, lighting, and even clothing. According to the historians, this initially started back when the moon was first colonized and there was a dearth of aesthetic materials but a preponderance of electronics. Buildings and even entire cities can change their appearance with a simple press of a button. In many ways the local population has become nocturnal because of this, preferring to sleep during the day and be active at night when the cities become truly alive.

The theatrical arts have also become a major pasttime on the moon as the local culture has emphasized adaptation of form and appearance not only in their cities, but also themselves. Festivals and parties are a common occurrence on the moon as the locals are continually looking for an excuse to have another. Fashions and styles change almost as rapidly as electronic communications will allow. The local Holo and color changing technology is some of the best available. A continual emphasis on compact and realistic displays has driven the costs down on a lot of the more expensive components in order to meet the local demand.

The Rote family has been known among the Varen for being some of the best infiltration and stealth experts available. A long cultural tradition in the arts of acting and disguise has had numerous military and covert operations applications when applied correctly. The Rote family has also been a strong force in the diplomatic arm of the Varen government; their ability to put on convincing fronts while teasing out the subtle meanings in the motivations in others has served them well in making contacts and manipulating others towards mutual benefit.

Varen IId – Vascud Family (Natsen)

The Vascud family moon is a typical habitable world that wouldn’t look out of place in most Republic systems. Diverse ecosystems, mild climate, and relatively common resources have given the Vascud a relatively secure position compared to the other families. This has been interpreted several times as complacency by others who find themselves woefully mistaken. The people of the Vascud moon are a resilient people and not one to let others achieve even a minor victory without dire cost.

The moon holds the distinction for having the most recognizable features. At first it was natural parts of the landscape like Alyssian Abyssal Whirlpool, or the Cantenabra Mountain springs, but then began to include artificial features as well. Festivals, landmarks, cultural rituals, historic battlefields, and even government institutions are known far and wide. These symbols of the people and their culture are robust and have withstood many attempts to destroy them and what they stand for. After all, these symbols have been far more enduring than the legacies of any one Varen no matter how powerful he or she was at the time.

The Vascud family specializes in Symbols. Symbols have power far beyond the meaning of whatever the symbol is made up of. A symbolic victory can be more advantageous than any strategic victory given the effects on morale and sense of accomplishment. This applies to more than just war though, symbols of power, wealth, achievement, and generosity can have great power too. All it takes is giving the masses an appropriate symbol, and their faith in it will do the rest.

Varen IIe – Morrowain Family (Trosnar)

The Morrowain family moon is a cold forested world. It’s heavy cloud cover keeps temperatures low and ensures a steady supply of rain across the moon. Much of the forest floor is a murky swamp proving difficult to navigate and live in. Most of the population lives in houses built into and around the overly large trees that make up the forest. The locals take great care to disguise the use of galactic technology within carefully sculpted wood furnishings. Carefully sculpting the growth of the trees and plants that grow on the trees has become a major portion of the local economy.

The locals themselves have developed a white skin bordering on marble, black eyes, and black lips. The only other variation from the human standard is the typical Morrowain is much broader and more stoutly built than normal. Indeed, the typical Morrowain female is usually more than a match physically for typical human males. Morrowain males are even more so.

Part of the culture is the art of ritual war paint and the participation in major games and feats of strength. Even the Morrowain Varen will participate, in their own league of course. One of the more common games is finding and riding one of the Thessals that roam the forest. Thessals are indigenous herbivore creatures resembling whales that internally generate hydrogen gas which is then stored in air sacs to keep the creature buoyant in air. The Thessal songs will reverberate throughout the forest for tens of miles.

Varen IIf – Soung Family (Zaine)

The Soung family moon is a wild and untamed wilderness for the most part. Boasting the most diverse ecosystem in the Varen system, it is a favored hunting ground for safari. Much of the land has been divided up into various large estates with villas that are practically cities in their own right.

The Soung moon is also the only Varen moon to host any sizable natural satellites of it’s own. In fact it is these three satellites that house the vast majority of the population and industry. While each satellite lacks sufficient gravity to hold an atmosphere, the slowly expanding glass ceilings are slowly turning the dead satellites into greenhouses and living space. Structural glass has become a common building material on the three satellites, which has led to the satellites having a stained glass appearance from orbit. This in turn generates a number of colorful light effects on the moon itself as the satellites traverse the sky.

The culture is one of politics and social events. The Soung family frequently hosts festivals and parties with the general populace and more exclusive occasions with more distinguished guests. Safaris hosted by the Soungs are an exclusive and highly sought after invitation. With a strong family talent for precognition, the Soungs have been able to procure resources, talent, favors, and knowledge from seemingly nowhere at times. Receiving a favorable fortune or prophecy from a Soung has become local blessing highly sought after by the people.

Varen IIg – Gruber Family (Cafed)

The Gruber family moon is a world that doesn’t have a lot of things going for it. The ecosystem is not particularly lush or fertile, the ground is rather mineral poor, and the neighbors haven’t always been friendly. Lacking resources, the people of the moon have turned to making up for quality of resources with quality of people. An hard emphasis on training and experience coupled with ensuring those few chosen for a profession have the best equipment available has ensured that the typical person from the Gruber family moon is better able to compete with their counterparts elsewhere despite the handicaps presented by their more limited resources.

Historically, the Gruber weren’t able to field the largest fleet, or train the largest army, but their troops and ships were some of the best in the system. The best engineers and technicians available designed and built the equipment used. The best soldiers were rigorously trained. And the best pilots were given the best fighters that could be made. A force led by the Gruber could be counted on to be far more effective than the numbers would lead one to believe.

This culture did have downsides though. The elimination of the experts in a given field would seriously cripple the efforts to rebuild. This was most evident when others managed to destroy Gruber forces on the field of battle (typically at great cost though) as it would take many years for the Gruber to recover, whereas the other families could recover from a similar defeat in a matter of months.

The culture also made the effects of personality clashes much more devastating to the rest of society as a whole. A good team of talent that worked well together could accomplish great things, but a team with fundamentally incompatible personalities would quickly fall apart. Sometimes it pays to have a large supply of more-or-less average replacements available to fill in positions emptied by those who are more talented, but less cooperative.

The Gruber family itself has been the caretaker of the system. A combination of precognition, telepathy, and management skills have enabled the Gruber to recognize talent and put it to the best use possible given the situation. Those that abused the system, or got too complacent with their duties would be quickly dealt with. This has included the Gruber, albeit on rare occasions, as well.

Varen IIh – Logosa Family (Muscron)

The Logosa family moon is a world of chaotic and violent weather. Due to various quirks of geography, the moon is prone to powerful hurricanes and tornadoes wrecking havoc across the surface. Much of the local flora and fauna has adapted to the circumstances, but the human inhabitants have struggled. Hollowed out mountains, cliffs, and even entire underground cities have been built to hide from the chaotic whims of the weather.

Attempts at controlling the weather with technology ran into issues with having to re-engineer the entire surface of the moon. Eventually though, the local industrial base developed enough to build large scale shield generators and high strength building materials capable of withstanding the random but constant onslaught of the elements. The arcologies have been reaching ever skyward after poking through the tops of the hollowed out mountains. The multigenerational nature of the projects has led to the people of the Logosa family moon taking a long view of things and what it means to accomplish something.

It was the Logosa that were central to this effort of keeping the populace focused on the long term goal of building the industry and infrastructure needed to move above ground and towards the sky. The Logosa are major planners and have a superb ability to organize people towards a goal or project. It is said that the family keeps a master record of plans, contingencies, instructions, and stockpiles of potentially useful equipment and supplies hidden deep within the family vaults in case of emergency.

Varen IIi – Maha Vailo Family (Ongis)

With a continent at each pole, and an ocean straddling the equator, the Maha Vailo family moon has been a place of opposites. The Maha family of Sith quickly established control of the Northern continent, but ran into increasingly fierce resistance in attempting to consolidate control of the Southern continent. Attempts to stamp out the resistance and gain full control of the moon ran into continual issues with the hit and run tactics used by the resistance.

The resistance became really organized when Vailo family joined the fight. A higher than normal propensity for Force Immune among the Vailo ensured the Maha had a difficult time tracking down members using Force powers. Eventually the Vailo developed fighting styles and techniques specifically for combating Sith.

The Maha war against the Vailo was an open secret for centuries among the Varen. The other factions turned a blind eye to the fighting so long as the Maha kept the Vailo contained on the moon. Eventually things settled into an equilibrium with the Maha in control of the Northern continent and the orbital defenses, while the Vailo controlled the Southern continent and most of the ocean.

The stalemate was finally broken when a rogue Holosith pushed into the system and landed on the moon looking to establish a new base of operations. Practical expedience took precedence against the foreign invader as the Maha and Vailo fought on the ground together while the other Varen families attempted to defeat the fleet in orbit. After the battle and death of the Holosith, a marriage alliance was established between the heads of the Maha and Vailo families finally uniting the moon under a single faction.

Since then, the Maha Vailo family has been merging the traditions and organizations together into a single coherent core known as the Grenkay Corps. The effectiveness of the Grenkay at dealing with renegade Sith has become well known, and the order has slowly been taking over the duties of policing the Varen. The appointment of the Grenkay to oversee the security of the Varen Council has been one of the biggest political victories the Corps has made recently.

Varen IIj – Gasden Family (Rurno)

The Gasden family moon is the most cosmopolitan moon of the system. This is largely due to the fact that the Gasden family has been the one adopting the vast majority of non-human Varen. Most of the cities are segregated into various enclaves of the most common races and subraces. The commons areas in the middle of the cities is where the vast majority of the inter-enclave trade and services are carried out.

The Gasden family itself would have collapsed some time ago due to a shortage of Force sensitives in the family if it weren’t the reliance on adopted family members to shore up numbers. This policy has in turn made the Gasden family the largest family in the Varen system, but has also led to a loosening of the family ties that have bound it together. Indeed, it isn’t uncommon these days for the adopted Gasden to only refer to themselves as Varen.

The typical Gasden Varen is typically a rather neutral presence in most events. They typically will work in the various governance and infrastructure roles and are counted on for their impartiality to family politics. Their personal projects tend to consume a large amount of their time and resources, but this is also tempered with the realization that there are only so many resources to go around. Cooperating and sharing may not lead to results faster, but it does lead to results more consistently over the long term.

Varen IIk – Shana Family (Savcor)

The Shana family moon has frequently been in conflict with the Brooke family moon. The Shana had been investing resources into expanding their presence in the outer ring system of Varen II through colonization and micro-terraforming. This brought them into conflict with the Brooke family that were also trying to expand into the ring system for their own purposes. This has given the Shana a distinct population advantage over the other Varen.

The people of the Shana moon are master terroformers and biologists. Initially this skill was needed in the repair of the ecosystem of their own moon from some prior catastrophe, but has since expanded into terraforming a wide variety of worlds into forms more suitable for oxygen breathing life forms. These techniques have turned their moon into a gaian paradise. Varen vacations to the Shana family moon have become quite common recently.

Currently the Shana family has been extending this expertise to the Varen and any territorial acquisitions that have been made. An attempt at forming a marriage union with the Brooke family ended disastrously do to issues of infidelity. This has resulted in a renewal of heated antagonism between the two families, but both have otherwise kept the peace of the Varen.

Varen IIl – Brooke Family (Pin-Mernu)

The Brooke family moon has historically pushed to better exploit the resources of the Varen II ring system. This had frequently brought them into conflict with the Shana family looking to expand it’s colonization efforts into the same territory. Minor skirmishes were frequent and full out wars between the two moons happened occasionally. These battles would become particularly pitched as the two moons approached each other in their orbits and their orbital defenses would begin shooting at each other.

The Brooke resource and manufacturing base has been the largest in the Varen system. While not up to the standards of quality of the Iresha, the Brooke can much more readily manufacture in bulk. This has led to the Brooke heading up the current efforts to map and patrol the borders of Varen space. Brooke repair and refueling stations are a common occurrance in the local stellar cluster as the exploration sphere expands outwards.

The Brooke family has a long history of exploration and prospecting. The Brooke have a strong family talent for navigation that has served them well in venturing into the unknown fringes of the Outer Rim. Attempts to foster a marriage union with the Shana family failed miserably when the head of the Brooke family took to illicit laisons with his personal pilot. Since the breakup of the marriage, the antagonism between the two families have reignited, although both have kept the peace of the Varen Council.

Star Wars – The Varen Council

The current occupants of the twelve Council Seats of the Varen Council include:

  • Mistress Yessa Iresha – Yessa is the head of resource allocation and logistics within Varen space. While she has no direct control over military expenditures, she does control how much gets put into the military budget each quarter. Known as a person that deeply attached to money, she is good at finding “wasted” money – although this has resulted in comments that she has traded in her lightsaber in favor of auditing people to death, much to her displeasure.
  • Master Ord Cantel – Ord is the council member most likely to attend council meetings via holo. His aquatic species limits his ability to interact with the rest of the council save for the most important of affairs. Master Ord is typically the most laid back of the Council; he likes to play the devil’s advocate and expose the flaws in the plans of others. While this behavior hasn’t earned him any friends, having your plan hammered by Ord relentlessly and still getting his vote is seen as a major achievement.
  • Mistress Hazel Rote – Hazel is the head of the diplomatic offices. A master of illusions, telepathy, and coercion, Hazel has managed to extend the Varen influence across the region. While seen as more than a bit heavy handed at times with negotiations, neutral parties tend to agree she’s fair if demanding. Not so neutral parties don’t tend to get to interact with her much until they’ve had an attitude adjustment.
  • Grand Mistress Naga Vascud – Naga is the current head of the Council. While this entails a lot of prestige for her and her family, this actually comes down to her vote counting twice in matters of a tie. Her focus has been on economic growth and the symbols of it. The construction of the three command ships was her idea as is the current push towards capturing assets that will become strategically important after the war.
  • Mistress Admiral Vera Morrowain – A Force user talented in the art of fleet enhancement and tactics. Vera has been widowed three times, but her last marriage did result in twin daughters: Farah and Karah. She is good friends with Valerie’s mother Lessa Soung from their days at the Academy. Currently is head of the Varen fleet, although this usually consists of assigning objectives to her subordinates and letting them fulfill them however they chose. Those who do well, get promoted.
  • Master Zertil Soung – Lessa Soung’s father and Valerie’s grandfather. He is the first male from the Soung family to hold the council seat in two centuries. With age beginning to take it’s toll, Zertil has begun to look for a successor to take his place. Zertil has been renowned for his ability to cut through irrelevant banter and get to the heart of a matter – no matter how much someone else would like to obscure the issue.
  • Master General Neer Gruber – Commander of the Varen armies and a skilled strategist. He likes to micro-manage things and makes it his personal quest to know the names of every soldier under his command. While criticized for wanting to know exactly what subordinates are doing and why at all times, he has punished commanders for following orders as opposed to sense. Ask Neer why he put someone in charge of an operation, and Neer will go into exhausting detail on the matter. Some joke that even the enemy don’t want that level of detail.
  • Master Tacit Logosa – Tacit is a schemer. His plans typically reach out decades, and if rumor is true, he has detailed instructions for his successors on what to do and when. He is usually the one to propose plans within the Council and is fond of challenging opponents in games of strategy. His list of contacts is large and is frequently quite knowledgeable on obscure groups and organizations. Rumors that he knows members of the Jedi Council are frequently denied.
  • Master Tieren Massud Maha Vailo – As the leader of the combined Maha and Vailo households, Tieren is a major power within the Council. The Grenkay Corps reports to him and is responsible for policing internal affairs within the Varen. It was Tieren that pushed for the expansion of recruiting efforts during the war. The appointment of Zertil’s son-in-law as the head of that project was a concession to the Soung family for support on the project.
  • Master Horas Gasden – Horas is the leader of the Archives and the associated Varen network. He takes pride in the size of the Archives and is not above using construction of Varen network relays as bribes to get what he wants. His personal goal is to establish a major connection to the Republic network without the need to go through the major Hutt backchannels given the major fees the Hutts have charged. The others fear that establishing such a connection may lead to the Republic growing fearful of the level of Varen development.
  • Mistress Robana Shana – Ex-wife of Klepp Brooke, Robana is head of the settlement and development departments. This typically involves terraforming efforts and containment efforts for truly annoying species. Robana’s grand plans for terraforming often set her on a collision course with Yessa Iresha. Rumors that she sterilized a planet with a particularly vexing Force predator in the wake of her divorce are as yet unvalidated due to lack of evidence.
  • Master Klepp Brooke – Ex-husband of Robana Shana, Klepp learned that seeing other people while married wasn’t the best move on his part. Currently overseeing the exploration and mapping departments, Klepp has taken to participating in council meetings via holonet. While normally working towards mapping new routes and systems, the war has redirected his efforts towards watching the borders and finding new routes to Republic and Sith space.

Star Wars – History and Philosophy of the Varen Commonwealth

Moons of solar system scaled to Earth's Moon

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Here we have a slightly-edited series of items from Kira’s player, detailing the homeworlds of one of the currently important factions.

Out beyond the borders of the Republic, there are many small, independent, domains. The Varen Commonwealth is one of those domains – consisting of the usual a scattering of outposts and territorial claims in nearby systems clustered around a modest group of inhabited planets and moons.

In this case, the center of the Varen Commonwealth lies in a single system – and that system has a vested interest in isolation and concealment from the rest of the galaxy.

History of the Varen Commonwealth

The Varen system lies on the Outer Rim of the galaxy, and is mildly unusual in that the Jovian class Varen II has a large number of habitable moons in orbit. There is evidence that at least some of the twelve inhabited moons were terraformed or moved into Varen II orbit from Varen III and IV. This combined with the Varen system’s location at the end of a minor hyperspace route gave it an excellent defensive position.

This in fact is what drew the first modern settlers to the system millennia ago while fleeing yet another Sith war raging across the galaxy. Inevitably, Sith fleeing the Republic also arrived in the system and set up shop. Keen not to draw the ire of a vengeful Republic, these Sith did their best to lay low and not draw attention to themselves. Those likely to draw too much attention, or to threaten the others, were killed before they could pose a threat.

Families of Sith arose to power on each of the moons of Varen II as each found ways to gain political control without drawing too much attention to themselves. With their footholds firmly established, each family began to look at the other moons with an eye towards conquest. And so began the trade wars, assassinations, political alliances and backstabbing that typically accompanies internal strife. However each family was keenly aware of the danger the Republic could pose should it detect another Sith empire forming. To that end, whenever one faction began to gain too much power, the others would unite to suppress it.

This continued on for hundreds of years – until the veritable stalemate began to become the goal and not the undesirable intermediate. Correlating with this change in philosophy was a shift in the doctrine of not drawing attention to the system. This changed from it’s original context to one emphasizing control of the Dark Side over sheer power.

Soon enough the next Sith war erupted due to the actions of another group elsewhere in the galaxy. The Sith of the Varen system joined the rallying cry only to experience severe culture shock upon meeting what they once thought to be their Sith brethren in the galaxy. Superweapons, devastating plagues, continuous backstabbing leading to defeat at the very moment of victory and more abounded. Had this type of behavior held in the Varen system, none of them would even exist! In each other, the Sith of the Varen system found a common cause, in the other Sith, they felt only disgust. Once again the war ended in a victory for the Republic, and the Sith of the Varen system fell back to their home system quietly.

Those that fought in the war did not forget the lessons learned though. Realizing that they had more in common with each other than with other Sith, honest peace dialogues started. Soon a council was formed of the heads of each of the twelve major families. This council originally served as a platform for mediation and negotiation, but in time grew to become a major decision making body for the system. Internal conflicts began to wane, and resources consolidated. Soon the inhabitants of the system began to call themselves Varen in recognition of this fact.

In the aftermath of the latest Sith war, several nearby systems were either abandoned or found themselves isolated from the rest of the galaxy. Most did not exactly welcome the Varen with open arms, remembering the atrocities from the previous Sith oppressors. It was true that the locals of the systems taken over lost a lot of political freedom in the process. On the other hand, the Varen encouraged economic growth and industrialization – despots yes, but despots with a clear sense of enlightened self-interest. Healthy economies, rich worlds, and functioning societies with reasonably contented populations made a FAR more useful power-base than attempting to rule by sheer terror.

Force sensitives born among the populace were systematically taken in by the Varen and taught the Varen ways. Those that managed to control their powers were adopted by one of the existing families and given rights and privileges to go with it. Those found to be lacking the necessary control were ruthlessly eliminated for the danger they presented to all the Varen had built.

In the larger galaxy, the cycle of Sith Wars came and went, although the Varen would always limit their participation. Choosing to cherry pick the spoils of war and peace while letting the Republic and more showy Sith continue their endless dance was much more profitable. Varen territory and assets grew over time and the Varen even began to try to limit the greater Sith excesses through assassinations and sabotage – or allowing a few Jedi to take care of their problems for them. After all, a vengeful Republic could destroy all they had built as much as a rampaging Sith Lord.

The Varen government has grown into a hybrid system split along class lines. The Varen families are governed by the family courts and the Varen Council. The non-sensitives who are not members of one of the families are instead ruled by the Parliament. Parliament can make laws and run social programs, but is not allowed to make laws regarding Force sensitives, manipulate military spending, or run major infrastructure projects. Funding is provided as a percentage of annual taxes.

The Varen Council is made up of the heads of each of the Varen families. It has the authority to make decisions regarding military expenditures, major infrastructure improvements, taxation, and laws regarding the Varen themselves. The organizational structure is much like any nobility class with minor fiefdoms and territories being held by various members of the family. Fiefdoms and territories are usually handed out by the Council or the families in the case of locations dominated by a single family. Appointments to various jurisdictions is doled out based upon a combination of merit, family connections, and political intrigue. A fiefdom performing well under one’s jurisdiction is looked upon well, but a rapid decline after departure is looked down on unless it can be shown to be the result of an incompetent successor.

Sadly, even with careful management, the Outer Rim just isn’t nearly as resource rich as the Mid-Rim or the Core. That territory was firmly under Republic control though and the Republic wasn’t likely to give it up readily. Nonetheless, there was more than one way to make a credit. The first envoys to the Republic wishing to set up an Embassy and trade relations was dismissed as a joke. Subsequent attempts at discrete negotiations fared well until some objecting Senators learned of the discussions and launched a public campaign to derail the efforts.

With discussions with the Republic failing repeatedly, the Varen looked elsewhere for lucrative trade routes. Hutt space proved productive if rather low quality in trade. The insect swarms of the Oort systems also proved to be a successful trade partner. All this time the Varen have quietly built up their industrial base, made connections, and established contacts.

As the most recent Sith war has broken out, the Varen have been attempting to take a more active role in the effort. While they don’t have the resources to compete with the Mid-Rim systems that defected to the Sith, the Varen are typically better organized, and further from the war front. This time they should be in a much better position to limit the damage caused and to pick up some prime spoils. Who knows, if they can manage to capture a real prize from the Republic, the Republic may be willing to exchange something precious to see it returned intact.

Besides, recruiting has gone way up this time around. Even if this particular war doesn’t go well, the next is sure to go differently.

The philosophy of the Varen Sith

The philosophy of the Varen Sith is simple; many, or perhaps most, force sensitives will eventually fall to the negative emotions of the dark side of the force, and this must be accepted. Thus they focus their training on unemotional logic – learning to transform the blazing fury of the dark side into cold fury, a force that can be directed towards their own utterly ruthless goals, rather than a into uncontrolled destruction of things which might be useful later – or which might attract too much attention.

Rather a lot of trainees prove unable to focus on their goals when the power of the dark side pours through them, and so either eliminate themselves or are eliminated – but the modest percentage who survive are tempered by it. The Varen Sith will always be a tiny minority of force-users because eight or nine out of ten will die in training.

On a large scale… they look remarkably similar to the Jedi from the outside. A Jedi might save children because it is the right thing to do. A Varen Sith might save children because the reputation is useful, gratitude is useful, they are potential future resources, and it helps keep the society that he or she is depending on for power functioning – but, either way, the children will be saved.

Of course, the Varen might use them for experiments or a diversion later on – but only if such use promises to be more profitable than keeping them alive and healthy for the future and if it can be concealed well enough not to cause social disruptions.