A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

A Proposed RPG Character

Procor is a densely-populated world shaped profoundly by its geography. The planet has flipped, over the past few hundred million years, between periods of intense volcanic activity and periods of quiescence, while the world’s rapid rotation (the day is 19 hours long) and occasional asteroidal bombardments (from the Procor planetary system’s dense asteroidal and cometary belts) has ensured rapid erosion. In the Northern Hemisphere, there are three continents and a dozen major archipelagoes, with no point being more than two kilometres high, separated by shallow seas. This and a generally temperate climate has helped Lomax become one of the more populous worlds in the RFW–more than 20 billion people live on Procor, including 17 billion in the Northern Hemisphere. With this dense population comes a thriving economy.

Conditions in the Southern Continent are rather different. The Antarctic Ocean is, by Procorian standards, vast and deep; the Southern Continent is separated by several thousand kilometres from the nearest major island in the Northern Hemisphere. Isolated far from the major Northern Hemisphere archipelagoes and continents, the Southern Continent was colonized more than a millennium ago by a party from the non-aligned world of Smuller. The Smuller colony flourished for a time before it was assimilated into mainstream Procorian society as a result of its membership in the Coalition which lost the Procorian Civil War three centuries ago. Since that time, Procor’s prosperity has helped integrate the Southern Continent and the Smuller descendants into the mainstream of Procorian society; residents of the Southern Continent cling onto a lingering clannishness as much as an affectation directed at their Northern Hemisphere brethren as anything else. Southern Continent folk are known for being particularly practical and excellent businessmen, not so much because of any particular genius as because of a sheer doggedness.

Procorian culture as a whole doesn’t tend for genius, which is seen as unduly disruptive; in many ways, it’s a conservative world, prizing quiet expertise and cooperation above all else. Many unconventional Procorians choose to emigrate: the Procorian outposts and colonies elsewhere in the Procorian system and the Procorian colonies in the nearby Han-Pyo, Geshel, and Iternade systems used to receive these immigrants, but as these offshoot societies have become firmly integrated into Procorian society many Procorians choose to emigrate elsewhere in the RFW, or even to the non-aligned worlds. Procorians don’t mind this emigration, by and large; they are content to maintain their distinctive culture and economy, both based not so much upon innovation as the refinement of existing models. Procorian political life is notoriously conservative, as a half-dozen different political parties have cooperated over the past two centuries in providing an efficient if faceless management of the Procorian Sphere. There have been, on average once every half-century, populist radical political movements which emerge and try to challenge the Procorian system, but these are simply ignored by the Procorian majority and fail; emigration from the Procorian Sphere surges whenever these populist movements fail. Procorian society is relatively egalitarian–women and sexual minorities are accepted as equals, and as most undesirable jobs are automated the major immigrant communities are easily-assimilated professionals–but is marked by a growing pressure towards homogeneity. The Procorians do not prize nature so much as they prize carefully-managed farm and gardens; much of the Northern Hemisphere’s ecology has been converted into park-like estates of varyinf wilderness, while the kelp farms off Minear continent’s coasts are the largest in the RFW. The only off notes are to be found in the Procorians tendency to participate in great public and semi-public bacchanalian festivities, common at the end of long work days among younger Procorians, where much alcoholic beverages are drunk and intimate relations consummated. (Although data is rare, alcoholism and related pathologies appear to be more common in the Procorian Sphere than elsewhere.)

Nephas Hollback, ship’s medic, was born on the Southern Continent 36 years ago. The Hollback family–native to the Mediterrean-climate Eastern Province and resident in the Southern Continent metropolis of Koroul for the past century–has been rather less prone to Southern Continent clannishness than others, simply because there are too many Hollbacks elsewhere on Procor and in the Republic of Federated Worlds to even pretend to be parochial. The Hollback family has been known for producing innumerable medical specialists, in a sort of family specialization. Nephas naturally followed suit, out of a sense of family duty and an uncharacteristic (for Procorians) love of his field.

When he was 14, though, his life was changed when his family left Procor to visit his paternal uncle and his family on Smuller. (The world of Smuller had fought a catastrophic civil war two centuries before its birth and was left in ruins; as part of the reconstruction process, Smuller had invited Procorian investment and Procorian immigration, particularly from the Southern Continent.) Although on arriving at Smuller Nephas was shocked by the world’s poverty relative to Lomax and its technological primitiveness (there were hardly any space stations visible from Smuller’s surface, and the global satellite communications network hadn’t been completed), after a while the Smuller experience grew on him. By the time that he returned to the Eastern Province, Nephas had made dozens of friends and casual acquaintances on Smuller and even learned to speak their language. (By the end of the stay, his brother Araul had taken to staying inside the Hollback family’s air-conditioned and computerized home.) As an older teenager, Nephas, was influenced by a small cultural sect of Southern Continent cultural revivalists as a teenager. These sectarians were interested in cataloguing the remaining remnants of Smuller culture on the Southern Continent, from the designs of the eaves of houses to the small ferns imported from the Northern Hemisphere continents to serve as garden decorations and salad garnishes. Nephas is not a Smuller patriot, much less a separatist; he is, though, quite aware of his Smuller ancestry.

Procorians tend to be inert, even more so than the RFW norm: For example, serving in Space Fleet rarely appeals to conservative and stay-at-home Procorians, and the hundred million voters in the Procorian Sphere tend to defer to majority opinions in any case. After graduating at the top of his class from Koroul Medical School, Nephas shocked his family by deciding to enlist in Space Force Academy. As he told his upset parents, he wanted to apply Procorian medical techniques on the field, where his skills could be challenged; he’d return to Procor soon enough, but he wanted to test himself first. Reluctantly, they agreed to consent to his departure, but his relationship with his Procorian family has remained tense; he tends to remain on base when he’s at leave.

Nephas is a tall thin man–6 foot 1 in height, 150 pounds. Nonetheless he’s wiry, and has basic self-defense skills in every-popular Ter-su. He is an intelligent hard-working man, almost to extremes: Most of Nephas’ social contacts and relationships are made through work, though his diligence has ensured that he has had plenty of both. (Incidentally, he’s heterosexual.) Nephas is fluent, in addition to his native Procorian dialect, in Standard Smuller, and has limited comprehension of various non-RFW languages; this serves him in good stead whenever he has to deal with non-RFW patients. His bed-side manner is polite and professional, but vaguely impersonal; in his off-hours, he tends either towards quiet concentration, catching up on medical updates, working on his published papers (he specializes in the study of human internal flora and related illnesses), and socializing in relatively formal settings, or in unrestrained parties like those common to Procor with other emigrant Procorians.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 29, 2003 at 12:38 am

Posted in Assorted

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