Sub/Zero Index Worlds

Hi all,

Our group has decided that our current world of Copernica is doomed to become little more than a glorified theatre for a Vaylen Prince to stage elaborate political and military dramas for his clan’s edification (and the passion and struggle will no-doubt increase the number of hosts with fascinating life-experiences). I realise this is bad form, since we are specifically admonished to play through to the bitter end, but I think everyone would like to try some world-burning again now that we all have some ‘Actual Play’ experience under our collective belts and clearer ideas about how things should proceed.

Everyone seems to be interested in sub or zero index worlds, worlds without an abundance of the powerful technology that largely defines the Iron Empires.

Trying to be a good GM-type-person I have been thinking about how to model this. My best idea is that the world could be Anarchic/Lawless (in this instance meaning it lacks a central government) with a lot of factions, so of which will represent more powerful states and power-blocs.

Has anyone got a better idea? Better yet, has anyone tried this already?

I had a quick hunt through the wiki and this is the only world below Low.


Otherwise judging by the Burning Empires wiki the vast majority of worlds were Low with one or two Highs.

One of our playtests was a Sub Index world. It was a broken down Ring World that had been colonized by survivors of a fleet that had crashed on it ages ago.

Our civilization basically consisted of some dusty towns and lots of independent-minded homesteaders.

The main government was a Commune–basically a town council with a mayor for a leader.

There was a charismatic homesteader that had problems with the taxes levied by the council. He and his boys and their friends were out in the hills with guns, ready to stir some shit up. They were a military junta.

The Mundus church was doing what it could to hold civilization together, but most of the homesteaders wanted no truck with them. They had a small force consisting of a Cotar Fomas and about 10 soldiers.

I was playing a Mule who had discovered the fusion generators of the Ring World and gotten them functioning again, at least enough for our limited power needs. And I was the only one who understood how they functioned. However, rather than supply energy freely, I led a Cult Church dedicated to the worship of electricity. Only members of the cult who tithed regularly got power lines run to their properties.

Finally, we had indigenous life forms in the form of huge, blood-sucking bat-like things. Led by BAT KRAKEN.

We had a great range of characters. I was playing the Mule Cult leader, as mentioned above. One guy played the politician on the town council (his son had run away to join his friends in the junta out in the hills). Another guy was playing the captain of the church military. Dro was playing an industrialist trying to get his factory off the ground. Mayuran was playing a Lord-Pilot Anvil who had recently crashed on the ring world. He was the only person on the world with Iron.

It was an intense game!

The heart and soul of the Iron Empires setting is definitely Low Index, so anything more primitive is less well supported. But bear in mind that Low Index (and higher!) tech can show up on Zero Index or Sub Index worlds; in Sheva’s War, for example, Baron Sheva and Philippe d’Artois both wear Iron on Taramai, a Zero Index world

We’re currently playing on a Sub Index world that sounds eerily like Thor’s, right down to the crashed fleet colonists and the indigenous bat creatures. Crazy.

Since it was a crashed military fleet the planet is ruled by a military dictatorship that shunted the nobility after the crash. There’s a lingering nobility element, some criminals, a farm commune, and a cult church that worshipped the hammer lord of the crashed fleet. The people are trying to use all this technology that nobody really understands anymore except for a select few, and regularly scavenge the remains of the old hammer fleet.

I think there’s really a ton of situations that sub index worlds would work in.

If scavenging lost tech is a big deal on your world, you might want to check out the homebrewed Salvor lifepath on the wiki and the Salvage skill, complete with rules for what happens when you botch a roll (“underwater, in vacuum, or in a contaminated environment, your suit is breached, roll 1d6: 1-2, H8; 3-4, H16; 5-6, you’re dead”).