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Zones of Moderation
Halo Periphery
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Zones of Moderation

Game Master moderation can generally be separated into three broad categories. These can be applied to regions of game territory - generally star systems, but potentially just the starport of a base or an entire cluster of star systems known as a Periphery.


Open
This is the most common zone and represents what can be loosely classified as a hands-off approach by the GM. Intervention is largely through reaction to special actions that draws the GM attention to a facet or detail in the game in an attempt to elicit some sort of response. This might be to point out to natives how bad the owners of a starbase on the planet are and give suggestions how they might alleviate the situation or aid the instigator of the special action.


Protected
Protected zones are ruled with an iron fist. They are there for the benefit of all and are something of a nursery where all can exist without fear. Actions intended to harm, even through carelessness are punished by the GM. Initially these may be little more than a stellar fine or the damaging of the offending position in a Pavlovian conditioning manner but will quickly escalate to wholesale slaughter is the recipient of earlier warnings proves either intractable or proves incapable of learning. The GM is at liberty to use whatever means to restore the status-quo, up to an including the removal of all offending assets of the transgressing faction from the zone - explosively if necessary. Actions that exploit transgressors of the protected status through non-combat oriented means are likely to prove especially successful just to emphasise the point - this is a protected zone. The Yank star system is the prime example of this - though it does include EEM assets.


Controlled
This is the middleman between open and protected and is generally regions of space where conflict is limited. Generally speaking there is a charter or explanation of what can and can't be done within the controlled zone. This might be limited warfleets, limits to the amount of bases that can be built or the nature of the actions that can be conducted within the zone.
Punishment is less severe than in a protected region of space and is generally meted out as a result of escalation or repeat transgressions. Carelessness or transgressions are rarely punished on a first offense basis unless they are magnitudes over the designated acceptable limit.
The Halo periphery is an example of this kind of zone.

Civilian (CIV) Claimed Systems  [Recruit]

These generally fall into the Open Zone of Moderation though with a little more GM influence on account of a large non-player faction with an invested interest in the system.

They have the benefit in so much as at least one world in the system is habitable and already has an advanced population. In game terms this means that anybody looking to colonise the system already has some if not all of their work done for them. The world is ripe for merchandising and selling to the local population.

The civilian system claim however accounts for a level of investment required by would-be new claimants in order to assume control of the system, gaining any system income and implementing charters and exclusion zones irrespective of the feelings of the populace. Under normal circumstances the transition from CIV claimed to Contested to Player Affilliation claim is considered a bloodless coup, the affiliation in question having shown resolve to install the necessary quantity of troops in the system. The civilian claim may then or in time be scrapped or it may remain as a continued pressure to retain a continued commitment to the system.

Certain worlds also have a 'Taxation Offset by Claim Support' which means that starbases, outposts or both are required to pay a weekly amount of stellars to the world's government but this amount can be offset by supporting the CIV claim. Again this ties into the ideology that the civilian population want people on the world that will defend themselves and presumably the planetary population.
Should the world no longer be claimed for the CIV, this taxation will generally be scrapped.

CIV Claims and Aggression
Attacking in a CIV owned system still requires either the appropriate relation or for the system to be first contested. The main difference between attacking in a CIV (or other NPC faction) controlled system and that of a system claimed by a player affiliation is that the CIV do not have a naval force and as such their responses to a hostile incursion are limited.

Example
DEN go to war with the SMS and launch an attack on an SMS starbase in an IMP claimed system. The IMP respond by threatening the DEN while mustering a war fleet to destroy their ships not only in this system but in other systems they can attack forcing the DEN to back off and seek SMS targets elsewhere.
Even though the DEN can attack the SMS in IMP controlled space due to their relations it does not follow that they will due to the political situation.


Generally speaking civilian populations get the hump when the planetary surface is bombarded irrespective of where the damage is being directed. They are less concerned about a destroying orbital platforms followed by a ground assault on a base as the damage is not being indiscriminately directed at civilians. Better yet is to first contest the system then capture the base on the ground, thereby proving to the CIV population that the former 'residents' weren't worthy. Ignoring a CIV claim and the 'goodwill' of a civilian population is likely to be met with an antagonistic population.

So, what can CIV do if people declare war and start firing in their space?
Clearly they have no naval presence of their own so they won't be sending the cavalry out into space1. They may prevent the use of buy and sell with civilian traders for the offending faction. They may set different tax rates for specific affiliations. Post offending positions and add them to the system enemy list. They may force the closure of merchandising complexes for specific affiliations. They may in the case of highly developed worlds use civil defences against specific affiliations when they enter orbit2 or land in developed areas3.

In all circumstances the level of response will be commensurate with the size and technology of the civilian population, the nature of the civilian government and the level of the hostile incursion. A stage 1 - Initial Colonisation world for example is unlikely to do more than post all offending positions (if it even does this) while higher stages with more integrated technology will do more including issuing a blanket ban on all attempts to create outposts and trade with the civilian population. Taxation may be increased for offending affiliations which in the case of attempting to bomb a starbase into submission before attacking on the ground to capture it, could seriously hamper happy relations with the civilian government for some time to come.

1The KAS has a system weapon that will automatically open fire on ships attempting to board or otherwise be a nuisance in the Yank system but this is unique in the game.
2Any ship belonging to the affiliation will simply suffer damage when it enters orbit for a barrage of small civilian satellites. The damage can be avoided if cloaked and mitigated through shields and armour. The damage is unlikely to be a serious threat to a warship though could be fatal for a modest freighter.
3This response is triggered when landing in urban or cultivated sectors and may take the form of a TU sink, damage or impounding of the ship, preventing it moving until such times as the situation is resolved.

 
News
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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 

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Over 20 years of content development
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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic