Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More than just High Passages - the TAS in my TU

What the Travellers' Aid Society does In My Traveller Universe

In the Third Imperium the feudal unity of the government makes a sector-spanning entity like the TAS possible. The Imperium is everywhere, so the TAS is everywhere as well. In my TU, there are multiple competing governments, none of which controls all of 'known space'. However, there is an organization that does span the map: the Church.

Why does the Church run the TAS? One of the reasons is right there in the name: Aid. For the Church to offer aid and assistance (the ecclesiastical word is alms) to those who venture across the stars just makes sense. The Church is a community. Parishes live and work together and help those around them. This is called almsgiving, and it is an essential part of what the Church is and does. The TAS takes as its foundation Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke chapter 10 which underscored his teaching to "love your neighbor as yourself".

Why a TAS?

Travellers by definition do not have a community; they are on the go, and often alone. The TAS was developed as a means of providing community to those who travel. The TAS grew over the centuries of space travel, starting out as local parishes and dioceses offering hospitality and assistance, then coordinating with nearby dioceses, sharing information and gradually developing a network of hostels and local Aid societies. Eventually it was taken up by the several jurisdictions and coordinated into a galaxy-spanning network, helping Christians and non-Christians who travel the stars.

TAS membership is available for Cr 100,000, or as a mustering out benefit. Occasionally membership will be bestowed upon a traveller in recognition of some outstanding service rendered to the Church or the TAS.

The TAS does more in my TU than send out High Passage vouchers and offer inexpensive meals and lodging. Every member has a 'home office', where their membership documents were issued. Any records noted elsewhere about that member will eventually make their way back to the 'home office'. This is not the same as a centralized registry that records each member in the style of Big Brother. The home office keeps track of its members to detect and counter fraudulent activity in the member's name, and can in some circumstances dispatch legal or humanitarian assistance if a member gets into political difficulty. Home offices are generally to be found on the capital world of a star nation, but many of the Independents have them as well.

The Society likes to keep track of what its member are doing. A traveller who visits a world usually declares his TAS status upon arrival, which opens to him the services of the Society, such as accommodations and information on local conditions. Once so declared, both TAS and the state know it, and if the TAS member has run-ins with the law the member may appeal to the Society for legal counsel and possibly representation. The other side of this is that now the TAS knows which of its member have trouble with the law; and it will keep record of that fact and share it with the members' home office.

In addition to identifying worlds facing natural or political turmoil, the Church uses the TAS classifications of Amber and Red Zones as a means of influencing a world's religious policies. A world that gets too restrictive or oppressive to the Church or to religion generally (see the post on the Religion Index) may find itself marked as and Amber Zone by the TAS. The TAS travel codes are taken seriously by the Interstellar community, so the Zoned world may lose trade, tourism or diplomatic standing with other worlds. This does not mean that the Church through the TAS can dictate a state's politics, only that it has a means of effectively making its' disapproval known. Of course in order for this leverage to be effective, it has to be used sparingly. The States labeled Amber or Red may moderate their stance and negotiate for the Zone designation to be removed, or they may retaliate with even harsher policies.

The TAS and the Frontier

Any solar system can have many inhabitable and inhabited bodies, space stations and orbital facilities. No matter what the tech level and population of the main world, there will be some parts of the solar system where for one reason or another, the local government cannot or does not exert its' authority. See the post on All in Space. Without effective governance anarchy, crime, and despotism can flourish. With most of these come oppression of the people and of the Church.

In addition to its activities in aiding travel, the Church through the TAS steps in to fill that gap where local governments fall short. TAS offer to travellers employment, short or long term, as troubleshooters, or Wardens, to go into these ungoverned or under-governed areas and bring order. Whenever possible, this is done with the consent and cooperation of the main world government, many of which appreciate the extra and free help. Wardens also function as emergency services, conducting search and rescue operations.

Lasham (Dormarc-Ostrander 0609)
“The Secretary of Colonial Affairs reported today that the crew of the mining vessel HMS Holbrooke, which had vanished in the asteroid belt region two days ago, are safe and on their way to regional medical facilities. The TAS ship St Pyotr of Iskillin was dispatched by the TAS office as soon as it learned that the Holbrooke was missing. They reported locating the ship eleven hours ago. First indications are that the Holbrooke suffered a collision which took its power plant offline. TAS Wardens were able to rescue all twelve crew members from the stricken craft, who had survived in vacc suits for over thirty hours.”

Criminal gangs will naturally move toward UGS as safe havens from which to conduct their activities. Piracy is a prominent trouble in UGS of poor or low tech states that lack strong Navy/Space Patrol forces. The TAS Wardens provide their own ships, most of the time, but the TAS does own some vessels either purchased, gifted or seized by Wardens and condemned by local prize courts. The extent of Warden authority varies from state to state. It is most common for Wardens to have authority to detain persons on suspicion of criminality, with the expectation that they will be turned over to formal law enforcement as soon as possible.

Wardens are not all TAS members, but can fast-tracked to membership by outstanding service. Wardens can receive a small stipend for their work, but for many it's just room and board and a job with a purpose. The TAS vets the Wardens by a thorough process of background and interview with a monk, usually one of the monks with Telepathy, to keep the criminally minded out. Warden service can be a stepping stone to higher SOC for former criminals or lower class types. A clean record of Warden service for two years will raise one's SOC by +1, to a maximum of SOC-8.

N.B. So far this is what I have on the TAS. I will be amending or updating this post as necessary. The logo is my first try, I'm not a graphic artist.  

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