Tuesday, November 26, 2013

330: Mundihof

ENTRY 330: Mundihof

"We are not a confederation, or a corporation. We are a community. Now git off my rock."
- Mama Yulia, Holder of the Nuke

An extensive beehive habitat with a population somewhere north of 10,000 transhumans, the Mundihof Collective are burrowed in to 48 Doris, one of the largest asteroids in the Main Belt. Most visitors mistake Mundihof for an anarchist enclave, but the truth is something stranger: 1,013 politically autonomous entities, each with a distinct geographical territory defined by their artificial cavern or caverns, mined out of the native rock and connected by a spiderweb of interlocking tunnels and politically neutral community areas subject to collaborative upkeep. Each "hof" currently consists of no more than 13 members, and engages each of its neighbors in complex political and economic agreements concerning trade, rights of way, tariffs and tolls, mutual cooperation, etc. Most of the Mundihof residents are stringent Autonomists, with a few being isolationists that are virtually brinkers, and the point of the habitat is to foster cooperation between small groups, while retaining their particular customs, art, and language, thus avoiding the dilution of cultures.

Of course, given the stringent self-centeredness that characterizes each hof, mutual cooperation with regards to the outside world and keeping the peace is a difficult balance. The former is handled by the Stadtholder, a perpetually interim political body/secret police that deals with outside threats on a case-by-case basis; the latter is handled by the Covenant of Mutually Assured Destruction - each of the hofs is possessed of a nuclear weapon of some kind, and violence between hofs is forbidden under penalty of their use - which in turn would lead to further reprisals, further uses of weapons, etc. Current estimates suggest that in the event of a nuclear exchange, the entire Mundihof habitat would be destroyed within thirty seconds. Even so, the various citizens of the hofs like to bicker and bargain and try to gain advantage over each other; it's pretty much the local pasttime.

Mundihof is mostly self-sufficient, with no individual hof having the resources or population to dominate any of the others to a considerable extant, and community resources like waste management, power generation, and air quality are generally handled by committees of the nearest hofs. Large-scale industry and agriculture is out, but among the thousand-plus hofs are hundreds of small specialist workshops that specialize in various individual crafts and crops. Tourism is quite popular on Mundihof, with several Mesh-based travelogues remarking on the ability to travel through three or four culturually and politically distinct mini-habitats in an hour (depending on local border travel agreements), and likening the experience to parts of Europe on old Earth. A transhuman could dine on reconstituted kelp wraps in Nizima, get a hand-carved cicatrix in Algeb, and finish off the night in a swing-hostel on Bryn Mawr, listening to the chorister-miners chink away at the rock. A few of the hofs are experimenting with their own currencies, but at the moment they accept credit as the universal currency, and when that isn't available simply resort to @-rep.

Using Mundihof

It remains to be seen if the great experiment of Mundihof will work out, end in a blaze of nuclear fire, or eventually consolidate into a single habitat or confederation. Only time will tell. In the meantime, player characters can have the run of the vast network of caverns and all of the strange, idiosyncratic mini-countries that inhabit them. Given the laughably small size of each hof, the player characters will probably present a considerable influence block in their own right just by showing up, and their actions can have a serious impact on local politics and economics. Some PCs might even get it in their head to start their own hof, which if the gamemaster is willing is perfectly fine with the Mundihof - all they need is to carve out a cavern, obtain a nuke, and start dealing with their neighbors. Empire-building isn't for every game though, and whether they set up shop on Mundihof or not the Stadtholder might have a use for the player characters to see to external threats - aggressive hypercorps, Planetary Consortium and Jovian Republic reps, and scumbarge pirates are just some of the problems that need to be dealt with, and trying to herd the hofs into acting together is more difficult than herding cats in zero gravity without a mass driver.


  • A terrible event: the hof of Niven has discovered that someone has stolen the radioactive material from their nuclear weapon! Now defenseless before their neighbor/enemies, the Nivenites quietly feel out the PCs to steal the material from another hof's weapon. The PCs can set out their plans, and if they succeed they find out that the target hof's nuke also lacks nuclear material! At this point, one of the Stadtholder shows up to explain that both weapons were disarmed to prevent their use - since only the threat of nuclear weapons is necessary to keep the peace. If the PCs agree to continue the illusion, the Stadtholder will pay for their silence and give them fake nuclear materials with which to satisfy the Nivenites.

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