Traveller: 3 Misconceptions and Play Suggestions Concerning the Solomani Confederation
Recently I asked on various Traveller forums what kinds of products do people want to see for the Solomani Worlds region. One of the responses asked for a reason to care about the children of Earth that turned Space Nazis. A solid challenge and one that needs to be addressed. So a good place to start with that is a blog post highlighting three misconceptions of our far-future descendants. Add these to ways to use the Solomani in your game.
1) Solomani Confederation is a Monolith
This should be exceedingly obvious but still needs to be said. Any confederation is a loose alliance rather than a strong central authority. If anything, confederations spend more time fighting internally than externally. One of the most determining aspects of a confederation is that the individual member governments (generally parsec governments in this case) do not have to follow the lead of their weak central government. During the Solomani Rim War where Terra was lost, not every planet contributed to the war effort, viewing this whole mess as the ruling party’s failure and choosing not to assist in this effort. Some planetary systems limited their contributions to money, keeping their people out of the effort. Others built ships or other supplies, claiming that their people’s technical prowess was too valuable to send to the front lines. However, the “most loyal and patriotic” systems sent regiments and fleets. It all depended on how the individual systems felt.
Even if they were a single central government, the Solomani are a collection of individuals and hardly a monolith. Yes, there are racists among them, but they are hardly representative of the whole of their society. This nicely brings us to our next misconception.
2) Every Solomani in the Confederacy is a Jackbooted Nazi
Again this is simply not true. This misconception comes from the original Classic Traveller’s Alien Module 6: Solomani. That book and those derived from it are largely considered by many original and modern fans of the game to be written from the point of view of the Third Imperium government and its supporters as a way of saying, “Look how terrible they are; we are much better. Ignore the problems in our society.”
Like I said above, there are racists in Solomani society and I am sure they are impossible to miss by the Third Imperium citizens, much like how the Ugly American stereotype is well known to those in the rest of the world today. In that same way, however, a few poor examples of a culture does not mean their whole is rotten to the core.
The most recent description of Solomani society as having a “racial pride.” Really? An entire race is proud to be that race? Perhaps some loud leaders and the various internal factions that follow said leaders are proud to be that race, but I find it exceedingly difficult to believe an internal group that is the descendants of slaves or other oppressed peoples would exhibit attitudes that lead others to be in similar situations as their ancestors. The same is true with those that want to live in a just society where all are equal. This could also be said about the descendants of those that worked to stop the Cradle of Humaniti from being destroyed from ecological disaster.
3) The Solomani Possess a Single Culture
I started to touch upon this in the last point and really this goes to the heart of the first point as well. The Solomani people are not one people. When the citizens of Earth started to go to the stars, they did so as a divided people. Early colonies held cultural ties with their original homelands. It was meeting the people of the First Imperium that made the people of Earth join under one banner. But that does not mean they instantly had a single culture. Colonies that were started by Japan that received an influx of Zulu citizens would eventually see a blending of these two cultures into a new mixed society. They would share cooking techniques and overcome hardships together. They would celebrate their respective ancestral holidays together while creating new ones to mark special occasions as a united people. So it would not take long at all for this new culture to look very different than one started by Brazilians that later saw an influx of Scandanavians.
While there would be a certain amount spreading of these cultures of the course of several millennia, one planet may look entirely alien to another group of Solomani. Some planets emphasized the learning of the common Solomani language over their culture’s native tongues while others decided the opposite.
To the average Solomani, being a “pure-blooded Solomani” is like being a purebred mutt, seeing themselves as a collection of different cultures. Adding the cultures of those from those that departed Terra thousands of years earlier to their own is not something that most Solomani would object to. The only ones who care about being “pure-blooded” are the extremist groups in their society.
The Problems/Roleplaying Possibilities
Just because the average Solomani is perfectly happy to live next door to a Vilani does not mean it is an ideal society. Are there worlds where the stereotype of the Solomani is true, where they are run by racists that overtly favor pure Solomani, where extremist groups can operate openly? Absolutely. However, there are more places that are inviting and welcoming to all. Then there are the vast majority of places that are somewhere in the middle, places that have racist policies that make life more difficult for non-Solomani but they can still operate. A planet that gives priority landings to ships owned by Solomani would justify that as wanting to favor domestic economic growth. Police frequently stopping and questioning non-Solomani, Solomani being eligible for certain tax breaks or loans that others are not, non-Solomani being unable to buy property in certain areas. This is what life would be like for non-Solomani in the Confederation.
With a single party ruling the territory, they can control who is and is not a member. They would be opposed by underground media outlets trying to uncover the truth, showing how these policies affect sophonts living in the Confederacy that most do not understand since they are not affected by them. A group of cargo haulers that is trying to “uncover the truth of their society” would be an awesome game potential for your group. So could a group of people trying to reform the Confederacy so that everyone has a voice by spreading word and supplies among peaceful resistance groups would be another fun game to play in.