Mars Needs Women
A science-fiction campaign outline, primarily intended for use with Star Wars Saga Edition or d20 Future.
Once upon a time there was a great empire, spanning the stars. It eradicated all enemies, and filled all worlds with its citizens. However, it was rotten through and through, and eventually fell to internal strife. The last war killed billions, and plague and nuclear fire set the survivors back many centuries.
Survivors eventually recovered and rebuilt, and a new fledgling empire has risen. A xenophobic misogynistic theocratic monarchy, rigidly stratified, but it's the only civilization around. Polygamy is the norm, with the rich and powerful having a dozen wives or more, and the plebs having none, and little prospect of getting any.
A History of Repression
200 years ago, the seed of the Unified Church was born, as a previous sect splintered. The fundamentalist Real True Saints believed in many things that were shared with other sects at the time, but seldom at the same time. It's most distinguishing feature was the fervent belief in the supremacy of Man and subjugation of Woman, and in polygamy as the road to Heaven. There were about 100 cult members (only males are counted), and the median number of wives was 5.
150 years ago, there were 10000 cult members, and the median number of wives was 4. The RTS was part of a political coalition that crushed the nascent feminist and civil rights movements of Akirema. This gave the cult leadership a taste for politics, and contacts with organized crime and Homeland Security.
125 years ago, there were 100000 cult members, and the median number of wives was 3. Cult membership was a road to success, and membership rose steadily. The first RTS president of Akirema used the threat of feminist terrorism to suspend all civil liberties and transform Akirema, then the richest and most powerful nation in the world, into a fascist theocracy. Various small nations were attacked and crushed in "preventive" wars. Genocidal tactics were sometimes used.
100 years ago, there were a million cult members, and the median number of wives was at an all-time low 2. This low number reflects the fact that many members that joined as a career enhancing move don't really believe in polygamy.
The other major powers of that era could no longer ignore the fact that Akirema was aggressive, genocidal, and might be after them next. International resistance against Akirema grew, and there was talk of a trade embargo. In response, the president of Akirema launched a nuclear first strike against the rest of the world. In less than a month, 2 billion people died. Almost all industry all over the world were destroyed.
The main exception was the war industry of Akirema itself, which was widely dispersed in rural areas. Likewise, the main RTS powerbase in Akirema was rural, so even though millions died, it made the RTS stronger. All able males were immediately drafted, and a crusade to unify the world launched.
In each territory attacked, children were rounded up as hostages. Boys were forced to become modern-day Janissaries, girls enslaved to be used as rewards to victorious soldiers. Whenever someone resisted, hundreds of men were slaughtered, while women were generally left to fend for themselves, or forced to marry the victors. After a few years of war, this process was self-sustaining.
75 years ago, the unification war ended with a total victory for Akirema and the RTS. Purges had removed most career-members, but the cult still reached 10 million blessed. Median number of wives were 3, though many could more properly be described as slaves. Large parts of the central cult doctrines were abandoned or modified during this era, enabling the RTS to absorb or merge with other major cults. Thus the Unified Church was born.
60 years ago, a functional hyperdrive was developed, and rediscovery of the galaxy begun.
50 years ago, cult membership reached 100 million, with a median 4 wives. The disenfranchised males were increasingly restless, as was many of the conquered peoples. Uncharacteristically, violence was not the main response. Instead, malcontents were shipped by the millions to newly established space colonies. There, they had to fend for themselves with little or no equipment.
30 years ago, an exploration team found an inhabited planet. The natives did not have modern technology, and were wiped out.
25 years ago, cult membership soared to 500 million. The median number of wives remained at 4, but the average had risen to 5. Only a handful non-cult women remained in the core worlds.
10 years ago, another inhabited planet was found. The natives were hunter-gatherers, and were promptly hunted to extinction.
5 years ago, feminist terrorism started to become increasingly common.
Today, cult membership has reached 1 billion, spread over the core worlds. Inequality is rampant, as the median number of wives has fallen to 3, while the average increased to 6. Record numbers of young men are demoted from the ranks of the blessed, to keep the skewed male-female ratio needed. Dissent is growing all over the empire, as is repression.
The state (and only) religion of the empire is a mix of fundamentalist Mormon and fundamentalist US evangelism, with all the bone-headed stupidity included.
The empire is ruled by a council of the most influential nobles, who are all by definition also priests. All decisions are by consensus, but less influential members seldom oppose the leaders. Influence and status is gained in roughly equal parts by having money, wives, and affiliated churches.
Church attendance is mandatory, but people are free to choose which particular church to visit. Each church have sermons both by the local priest, and tele-sermons by one of the ruling council. Churches sometimes switch allegiance to another council member, which influences the voting power in the council. There are no other forms or trappings of democracy at government level, but local affairs are sometimes voted on after the service is over.
The empire's treatment of sex and marriage is a central point of the campaign, as it drives the plot.
- Only nobles are allowed to marry, but all children are born noble. Boys are demoted to pleb status for the slightest infraction or opposition, fostering unthinking obedience among those that remain.
- Only men with at least three wives can get to heaven. Other men are bound for eternal damnation.
- When a married man dies, his surviving widows are divided among his relatives. High-status males often have dozens of wives.
- A girl is the property of her father, a woman the property of her husband. Some widows above childbearing age are emancipated, but that is rare.
- Officially, men and women are equal in value, and are treated differently only because of natural and abvious differences. Most women and all men believe this, having been indoctrinated all their lives. Women that refuse to believe get "chastised" for their own good.
- For a pleb to accost or abuse a woman is a heinous crime, since she is by definition the property of a noble. A woman should always be shown the proper respect that is due her husband. Nobles abuse their wives all the time, but that's just proper.
- Homosexuality leads to eternal damnation, but is tolerated among the plebs. They're damned anyway, and it helps to keep them in place.
- Any use of the Force by a pleb is guaranteed to bring inquisitors running, as is blatant Force use among minor nobles. Such use is considered witchcraft and consorting with demons, and usually brings the death penalty. Minor Force use among nobles is indicative of God's blessing.
- Both the ruling class and the ruled live in constant fear of God and unknown enemies. Personal paranoia drive nobles to scheme against each other. Institutional paranoia have twice caused the extermination of newly discovered races.
- The existence of non-humans have never been acknowledged. Thus, there is no specific prohibition against having relations with them. In more general terms, any consorting with non-humans is a sure sign of corruption, and brings eternal damnation.
- As far as the general public knows, the cleansed planets were always devoid of inhabitants, and any ruins found were from the mythical first empire.
- It is unlikely that the public would support an official policy of flat-out genocide, but it is equally doubtful that they would actively oppose such a policy.
As prospectors and far surveyors loosely attached to the navy, all player characters are male plebs. None of them have as much as seen a woman in years. But things change.
A routine investigation of a newly mapped system uncovers not only a habitable planet, but inhabitants. Standard Operating Procedure calls for a full survey to be made, before calling in the exterminators. As part of this survey, natives are to be kidnapped for interrogation, examination, and vivisection.
To avoid discovery, an oceangoing vessel is targeted, and the PCs goes on an alien abduction raid. This is when things go pear-shaped. It turns out the ship is a slave vessel, with hundreds of slaves in the hold. All of them female. Each one physically compatible and chosen for their good looks. Also not quite human, but the differences are small and easily ignored.
If the PCs do manage to resist temptation, they do their duty, kill all and cleanse the planet, incidentally ending the campaign. But if not, they have made themselves criminals in thought and deed. While continuing investigations planetside, they must hide their actions from their superiors, and keep word from getting out. Killing everyone who finds out is impractical, and is probably not something they are ready for. Bribery on the other hand is easy and painless, and they have a planet full of excellent bribes for spacers starved of female companionship.
This eventually creates a snowball effect, as spacers they have supplied with women go far and wide across the empire, whispering to people they trust and spreading rumors. Official investigation follows, which must be stopped. This begets more investigation, until the only course left is to mutiny and attempt a military coup.
All starting characters are members of the scout service, stationed on the old survey cruiser Mars. They are all male, as no woman would be allowed beyond her husband's reach. No character has the status needed for marriage, but they can be officers.
Human is the only available race. Later, it might be possible to play one of the locals.
Jedi: Force use is considered witchcraft, and there are no lightsabres, so Jedi is not an optimal choice. The Lightsaber Combat talent tree is unavailable. How have you escaped detection so far?
Noble: A truly influential noble would never be stationed on a run-down ship like the Mars. What did you do to end up here?
Scoundrel: There are rogues everywhere, and the imperial navy is no exception. Scoundrels are excellent pilots, but note that there are no starfighters.
Scout: Plenty of scouts in the scout service, doing grunt work during bug hunts.
Soldier: When the going gets rough and the brown stuff hits, the soldier takes care of the mess. This happens all too often.
At least one character should have taken part in the last extermination mission, to ensure that the PCs knows what will happen if they follow the party line.
A few boring routine missions in the scout service. These are intended to provide familiarity with the system, and introduce the characters.
Discovery of habitable planet, with piracy yielding female bounty. During the initial stages, bribes can handle all space threats, and most action is planetside. PCs have a technological edge over the inhabitants, especially superior mobility. Missions are straightforward, and typically deal with plunder, loot, and slavery, but as they learn more of the local culture this will diversify.
Missions slowly turn from overt violence to diplomacy, intrigue, and assassination.
Planetside, the PCs start to deal directly with some of the local governments. This might be as conquerors or saviors, it doesn't really matter. Either way, they'll make enemies.
In space, the first investigators that cannot be bribed turn up. This requires finesse and deception, or assassination if all else fails. Sooner or later some loose end will have to be chased deeper into the empire.
With the eventual failure of stealth, it is time to grab destiny by the balls. Somehow word gets all the way to the center of the empire. There will be a response, and by now the PCs should have done enough to be certain of the death penalty. They can run, but they cannot hide forever, and anyone left behind would be slaughtered. Rebellion provides a more permanent solution.
By now, the PCs should have lots of contacts and customers all over the empire. If they can unite them, they will have enough ships to stage a local coup when the exterminator fleet arrives. Once they've done that, they have no choice except open rebellion and a drive towards the capital.
Missions are mostly a mix of diplomacy and ship-to-ship combat, culminating in a grand assault on the palace.