RICE Logo RICE Paper #SM-1520: Tavonni/Vilis

Last Updated 27 January 2007.

Tavonni (Vilis/Spinward Marches 1520)

"It is not as though the Star Vikings invented anything new. They simply refined old techniques under the direction of their Hiver puppet masters. Tavonni, for example, was a bootstrap operation long before the Reformation Coalition knew what the term meant".

Jeffery Zirzuika, A Staple Diet: The Collected RICE Papers, U of R Publishing 1140.

  1. Planetary Data
  2. Early History
  3. Modern History
  4. System Description
  5. Society
  6. Government
  7. Landholdings
  8. System Details
  9. Adventure Hooks
  10. Footnotes


E-567000-7 Lo Ba Ni 434 DD G6 II <----- 1120 data
B-567642-D S Ag Ni Ri 434 Re G6 II <----- 1201 data

G = 0.7, Day = 23h 59m 2s, Year = 32y 53d 7h (around Ryzel), 455y 21d 3h (around primary)
Atmo = 1.0, No weather control
Temp = +13 (5.5/lat, Season +10 To -16)
Daily Temp Range = +6 To -12
Native life present
Nat. Agricultural, Ores, Radioactives, Gems & Crystals, Petrochemicals, Weapons (esp.), Electronics (esp.), Gravitics (some)
Progressive/Enterprising, Passive/Militant, Harmonious/Friendly
Legal: Territorial 2-20341 Tech: DD-FEFFD-FFFF-EF-F USP: B-DBBABBAA

J-6 Map of space around Tavonni
Arba Landgrab


Tavonni is one size point away from being a T-Prime world - ripe for colonisation. Why, therefore, has the Imperium ignored the world for centuries? To understand this, one must first understand the history of the centuries-old Imperium/Sword World conflict, and Imperial defensive strategy in the region.

The Buffer Zone

In the years prior to the First Frontier War (589-604), the Imperium gradually expanded along the mains in a kind of "line of least resistance" fashion. It took the war to make the Imperium recognise the danger posed by the Abyss. The Sword Worlds, although not a united force, were now part of the Outworld Coalition. Suddenly, the Imperium perceived the Sword Worlders to be a serious threat to the "soft underbelly" of the Marches. Imperial strategists began saying that "even a Sir couldn't miss that hole" (attributed to Fleet Admiral Frederick Shaeshpaa, Olav hault-Plankwell's chief-of-staff, referring to the Sword Worlder code of deference)[1]. Plankwell duly dispatched Imperial forces to take the Abyss worlds and "plug the gap".

This changed the Imperial strategic direction in the region. Originally, the only Imperial worlds on the immediate far side of the Abyss were Arba/Lunion and Rabwar/Lunion. A six-parsec gap existed between Arba and the next Imperial world, Vilis/Vilis. The taking of Tavonni/Vilis and Saurus/Vilis created a buffer zone between the Imperium and the Sword Worlds. At TL 11, even the best Sword World starships were only jump-2 (even now, only a handful of ships are jump-3). To penetrate into the Imperium means that any Sword Worlder fleet must jump into the buffer zone (the Vilis-Saurus-Tavonni-Arba axis), refuel, and then jump into the "Imperium proper".

With this buffer in place, the Imperium was free to develop a "defence-in-depth" (similar in many ways to the current Regency Frontier). The Navy and Scouts built bases on newly annexed Lanth/Lanth (the Navy for defence, the Scouts for surveillance). The Navy built supporting bases on D'Ganzio/Lanth and Ghandi/Lanth, and strengthened the base at Adabicci/Lunion. The IISS, again for surveillance, established a base on Rabwhar/Lunion (at jump-3 from the Sword Worlds, it was just out of reach). In order to allow for a "scorched-earth" retreat strategy, the Imperium left the buffer-zone worlds undeveloped (with the exception of Arba/Lunion).

Border Strategy and the Frontier Wars

Having taken these steps to secure their borders, the Imperium ignored the border-zone worlds for centuries. They nearly lost Tavonni in the Third Frontier War (979-986), when Sword World forces took Saurus and Margesi/Vilis. The Imperial strategists did not view this as critical, since the only viable destinations from Saurus are Vilis and Tavonni. Even so, they deemed Saurus and Margesi critical enough for the Imperium to retake them in the Fourth Frontier War (1082-1084).

Standard Imperial strategy adopted for the region was to post scouts in the buffer zone to fore-warn of invading fleets. This meant that the only permanent presence on Tavonni was a Scout surveillance team. The IISS stationed three to four Scouts on Tavonni to operate an array of sensitive detection equipment, and stationed a scout ship at Tavonni's jump-point. If the ground base detected hostiles, it used a tight-beam link to transmit the intelligence data to the scout ship, which then jumped to Lanth. The Imperial forces used the early warning to retreat and regroup. The deep-support bases continued supplying the Lanth strong-point, while high-mobility forces jumped behind the lines to harass the enemy's line of supply.

During the Fifth Frontier War, the Imperials used this tactic quite successfully, if a tad over-zealously. When Lanth heard that the Gram Fleet was at Tavonni, they dispatched a counter-fleet to the system. This rapid response was actually due to (faulty) intelligence data given out by Santanocheev's Office of Naval Information. The ONI had calculated that any Sword World fleet needed at least three weeks to fully frontier-refuel. Therefore, if the 193rd Fleet jumped immediately from Lanth, they would catch the Sword Worlders in the buffer zone. In fact, the Gram Fleet refuelled in under three days, and jumped directly for Lanth. The 193rd missed the Sword Worlders at Tavonni, but returned to Lanth just in time to surprise the Sword Worlder's planetary invasion.[2] On 096-1109, the newly formed 100th Fleet forced the Gram Fleet off Lanth, and out of the subsector by 211-1109. Tavonni was liberated shortly after.[3]


Modern Tavonni history covers a very short space of time, encompassing 1111 to 1201. Caradoc LIC, a Ling Standard Products company, purchased the system in 1117. Menelvagor Ltd, originally a Sword World company, built the starport. The background on both companies provided below explains how this seemingly unlikely fusion came about.

Caradoc LIC

Caradoc began when a retired Fleet Admiral (Count Leto Khaanraarshuinki) and a retired Army general (Gukushriiken) created a trading company in the Outrim Void (Egryn subsector, Trojan Reach). In 1099, the pair teamed up with two ex-scouts and a merchant. By using their retirement benefits and Leto's family fortune, they created a subsector-wide interface line by 1101. Trading, a lanthanum strike, and the salvage of missing frontier cruiser Bright Light built Caradoc's capital to TCr 1 by 1117. When Leto learned of Strephon's death, he foresaw trouble in the Outrim Void. Guessing at the probable response of the ihatei (with knowledge long gained from trading with them), he decided to abandon his trading bases and retreat to the Marches. While scouring the sector for a new base, Leto cut a deal with Ling-Standard Products to become a subsidiary company. This gave Caradoc access to much-needed contacts within the Marches, and provided a large capital base to draw upon. When his scouts returned, Leto decided that Tavonni was the best choice for a base: it provided land, it was in an under-developed subsector, and it was in a central location in the Marches.

Menelvagor Ltd

Menelvagor Ltd traded throughout the Marches for nearly ten years, after being incorporated on Beater/Sword Worlds in 1101. Growing from a single free trader to a fledgling company, it received a severe setback when pirates destroyed its flagship Mithril Wanderer in 1110. The company lost its founder, Beowulf Heyerdahl, at the same time. Baroness Heidi Maria Heyerdahl took over the company and steered it through the remainder of the Fifth Frontier War. Two years later, the shipyards at Pixie/Regina completed the company's new flagship Bonaventure, a 12,810-ton armed merchant cruiser.

The Tavonni Purchase

Leto travelled to Regina personally to petition Archduke Norris for the Tavonni system. While attending a function, he met Heidi, and they discussed the purchase. Heidi realised the potential of the concept and offered to build the starport. Together, they approached Norris with a detailed proposal. It included the establishment of a Scout base and xboat link between Vilis and Lanth, the creation of a starport, and the provision of a small planetary defence fleet (partly to be comprised of surplus Imperial Navy craft). Norris approved the Tavonni Purchase on 261-1117. An extensive system survey began as Caradoc's Darrian Aslan company Ftai evacuated its holdings in the Outrim Void.

Caradoc immediately constructed a basic D-class starport, while Menelvagor Ltd raised a MCr 2,000 loan from Hortalez et Cie and began building the "real" starport of Beowulf Down. Caradoc also recruited refugees from the ihatei invasions as colonists. In a joint refuel/repair deal with Al Morai, Caradoc ensured that the refugees were transported to Tavonni at a discount rate. In turn, Al Morai's dead-end route from Regina to Garda-Vilis turned into a circular route to Lanth, connected via Tavonni.

By the completion of Beowulf Down on 100-1121, Tavonni's population had reached 117,200. A population boost occurred later that year, when a lanthanum strike in the Peanuts belt brought miners flocking to the system. A further boost occurred when the Domain learned of the AI Virus and forced Tavonni to destroy all its robots. The government had to re-start colonist recruiting to replace the lost workforce.

The Sword Worlds Land-Grab and the Abandonment

The Imperial Navy supplied a surplus Kokirrak-class dreadnought to the Tavonni Planetary Navy (TPN) on extended loan. Together with the Bright Light and Bonaventure, the Khtai provided the core of the planetary fleet. The TPN increased in size by loaning and purchasing numerous smaller ships. The ground forces grew from Caradoc's original Aslan company through to regiment size by 1130.

In 1130, the Navy reclaimed most of the ships loaned to the TPN (including the Khtai). They also nationalised many of the military ships owned by the TPN, re-directing all these vessels to enforce the Quarantine. This almost proved the undoing of Tavonni when the Sword Worlds attempted their land-grab in 1132. The TPN desperately pressed into service every ship it could find, even using private vessels as couriers where necessary. The Tavonni forces fought a rear-guard and somewhat guerilla-like campaign against the invaders. The Sword Worlders managed to gain a foothold on the surface, but sustained heavy casualties as the Ashsiimkir-Ftai, now an Imperial-Aslan planetary regiment equipped to TL 15 standards, inflicted losses far greater than their numbers would suggest. The Sword World ground forces could not crack the four tank companies of the regiment, having to rely on ortillery that was then vulnerable both to the tanks and to some well-placed deep-site meson guns. When elements of the 18th Fleet finally relieved Tavonni, they drove the Sword Worlders out of the system.

After this, the RQS returned a number of ships to the TPN, including the Khtai, Bright Light, and Bonaventure. The Tavonni defence forces had their revenge, accompanying the regular Regency forces when they annexed the Sword Worlds, supported by the 151st Fleet from Sacnoth/Sword Worlds. Baroness Heidi personally claimed her homeworld of Tizon in the name of the Regency.

The Abandonment (1133) was something of a lifesaver for Tavonni. Deprived of its robotic workforce three years earlier, and having to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the Sword World invasion, the planet needed more people. With a history of recruiting refugees for resettlement, the Tavonni government had an edge over other Regency worlds that opened for colonists. Tavonni was almost able to pick and choose whomever it wanted to bring, welcoming them into its society while cleverly avoiding the "Refugee World" tag (some Regency citizens view this label with distaste). The young Tavonni society thus succeeded in incorporating the refugees, much as it had the original (and on-going) colonists for 15 years. However, the citizens of Tavonni - normally friendly and accepting - voted recently against allowing Zhodani refugees to settle in the system. Observers believe that this result derives from the antipathy shown to all members of the former Outworld Coalition by the families of Count Leto and Baroness Heidi.


Inward Clearance

Tavonni considers itself to be on the frontier. Even the forcible acquisition of the Sword Worlds has not wiped out the memory of their attempted land-grab. This perception shapes Tavonni's attitude towards defence and inward clearance. Outsiders often consider Tavonni's defence forces to be overly large. However, this allows initial inward clearance to be cursory and almost automatic; always remember; the Navy awaits insystem. A patrolling naval vessel makes a cursory scan of incoming traffic and normally clears it through to Tavonni System Control. It may give special clearance if a vessel has another destination (for example, another starport or base in-system). Generally, this must be pre-arranged.

Tavonni System Control (TSC) is based at Tavonni High, and monitors all in-system traffic. TSC controls the movement of ships to and from Tavonni High to all downports, plus any ships with special clearance that bypass the highport. It also has the authority to declare a civil or military emergency. The difference is that a civil emergency causes rescue ships to race to the scene, while a military emergency causes warships to race to intercept. Either way, TSC vectors civil and military traffic throughout the system. All military traffic remains away from the civil lanes, unless they enable their transponders.

All incoming ships, unless given special clearance, must dock at the Tavonni High orbital port. Classed as "basic" in size, it houses up to 500 passengers and 500 work crew. Refined fuel, spare parts, armament stocks and annual maintenance are all available, plus local foodstuffs and luxuries from across the sector. Customs and Immigration can clear planet-bound passengers either in orbit or on the surface. In-bound cargo has a basic inspection performed on it to ensure that its bill of lading is accurate. Starport Authority (SPA) customs officers sometimes inspect cargoes for contraband, but this occurs less frequently for regular goods than for speculative cargo. SPA personnel synchronise customs procedures with scheduled shuttle flights, allowing passengers and cargo to proceed to the planet with little or no waiting.

If a ship wants to land at Beowulf Down, customs officers must first inspect it at Tavonni High. Final customs and immigration clearance may be handled either at Tavonni High or at Beowulf Down. TSC must then give landing clearance before the ship commences re-entry. Note that ships with special clearance may undergo inspection, customs and immigration at their destination downport.

The Mainworld

Seen from orbit, Tavonni appears untouched by civilisation. A deliberately low-key approach to development has left much of the planet undeveloped, making it look like a green jewel, lush with vegetation. While shuttling to the main starport on Björnöya Island, it is difficult to imagine that advanced sophonts live here at all. It is only when nearing The Plateau that artificial features begin to emerge from the jungle.

Björnöya IslandBeowulf Down, the main starport, has excellent facilities for both the private and commercial traveller. Aircraft and small craft are available to the tourist. Spaceship construction and starship repair is provided by Lone Scout Enterprises, an Imperial company originally created by ex-Scout Mikhail Bayden-Powell. A full Scout base is attached to Beowulf Down, and is open for inspection once per month. New vehicles and equipment are marketed by trendi (tavonni research, engineering and design inc), a subsidiary of Menelvagor Ltd.

The main tertiary industry is hosting conventions and meetings for members of widespread Regency companies. The consequence of catering for these well-to-do travellers means that prices are not for the faint-hearted. Accomodation within the starport perimeter, for example, is at the Starport Hotel (4-star). The capital, Tamoachan City, is located moments away from the starport via monorail. Accomodation here ranges from the Hotel-at-the-Edge-of-the-World (5-star) through to the local TAS hostel (4-diamond). The off-worlder notices immediately that, having begun with only pre-fab buildings, Tavonni's population now prefers luxurious dwellings. Due to the cultural diversity, a number of restaurants provide off-world cuisine. In fact, most of the cuisines of three sectors, five species and four major races can be sampled in the capital alone.

Tavonni Safari Park (TASP), located on the next island west of Björnöya, is set aside for the exclusive use of safaris. These include both camera shoots and big-game hunting expeditions. Much of the more exotic of Tavonni's wildlife can be seen inhabiting the island. The Tavonni Beach Resort is the only permanent construction on the island.

The primary Aslan settlements are located on the eastern continent, mainly for historical reasons. Caradoc's base is located there, and operates out of the original starport (now C-class). It was on this continent that Count Leto first granted land to members of the Ftai company. One other spaceport in known to exist on the planet, but its location is classified - as are the locations of Tavonni's deep-site meson guns. At least four of these are believed to exist - possibly more.


Civilisation on Tavonni is widespread, literally! This is deliberately aided and encouraged by the planetary infrastructure. Being a young settlement, Tavonni's infrastructure is less than 70 years old, and averages out at TL 13 (some at TL 15). This contributes to the settlement pattern on Tavonni. The only large population centre is Tamoachan City (located close to Beowulf Down), with most of the population living in medium sized communities, separated from their nearest neighbours by up to 600 km or more. Most of these mid-sized communities support smaller communities, based on primary industry. This settlement pattern means that there are few long distance ground transport links. Most passenger transportation is via grav vehicles, either air/raft taxi for short distances, or GCoach for longer distances (for example, via the Vargr-owned long-haul bus company, G-Hound). These long-distance services stress high speed. Rental vehicles are also available, ranging from luxury speeders through to Grav RV's. Bulk cargo trade is via either a few ocean-going merchant ships, or small craft/starships.

From early on, the Count's forces perceived the need for good communications, to offset the danger of dropping out of contact. Without it, help is almost impossible to call for, and rescuers would spend a considerable time deploying. Tavonni established an excellent and affordable communications network. All vehicles are fitted out with emergency beacons (including vehicles brought on-planet privately). Rental of a communications service is available at short notice for Cr1 per day plus Cr0.3 per 10 minutes on-line, with hand computer access at Cr3 per day (long term rentals are lower than these prices). The government also created a rapid deployment emergency service facility. The easiest way to provide these emergency services in the early days was to form them from the existing military medical and police forces, and today they still retain a paramilitary flavour, being staffed predominantly from ex-military personnel. For this reason they find it very easy to escalate problems to full military support in an emergency (the military are obliged to lend a hand in civil emergencies). They also have good access to funding, heavy equipment, and the Count's ear on major issues.


First Impressions

The streets of Tavonni are very cosmopolitan. Apart from the human majority, a few Droyne rub shoulders (or shoulder to hip!) with Aslan, who comprise a large portion of the population. Many businesses have been started with multi-racial, and multi-species partners. Most such businesses find the diversity is an encouragement for all their client races. Travellers find the population open and friendly. Since most people are only first- or second-generation settlers (sometimes third), they welcome people from across the Regency.

The Military

Since the very start of development on Tavonni, there has always been a strong military presence in the system. Starting by settling the Ftai company , Tavonni has constantly reviewed and upgraded its defences. The Sword World border was always on the mind of Count Leto, and he was the first to recommend annexation of the Sword Worlds when they began their land grab.

The need for the military has never been questioned - especially in light of the fact that they are citizens with voting rights. The Tavonni Planetary Navy and the Ashsiimkir-Ftai regiment cemented this need in the hearts of the populace, with their heroic defence of the system against the invading Sword World fleets.


Democratic government has always been a key part of Tavonni's development. Count Leto shrewdly decided that his planet needed to be "democratic" in order to attain the "Rich" trade classification. Accordingly, he formed a Constitutional Committee to create the Tavonni Constitution and system of government. The Committee decided that:
"The people of the planet of Tavonni will be governed by a representative democracy, elected from either an independent platform or a party system. This elected legislative body will be known as the Government of Tavonni (hereinafter referred to as the Government)".
[excerpt from the Tavonni Constitution]

The population of a locality elects 10 local councillors. In turn, each local council elects one of its members to be their representative on the regional council. Each regional council elects two of its members for the planetary government: one for the House of Legislation, and one for the House of Review (this system was an attempt at preventing a two-party political system from forming). Each level of government can pass legislation which will take effect in its own area: local councils can pass Local Regulations; regional councils can pass Regional Ordinances; and the Planetary Government can pass Bills which become Planetary Statutes, with the Count having the power of veto. If lower laws conflict with higher laws, the lower laws are deemed suspended. All three types of law are policed by the Tavonni Police Force.

Planetary Statutes can also be created by plebescite (a vote of the entire population). All "matters of public importance" are decided on by plebescite. In most matters of public importance, the people tend to demonstrate similar voting patterns. In 70 years, the closest result of a plebescite has been 60:40 (the Zhodani settlement vote). Every citizen of Tavonni over 18 years of age is be eligible (but not required) to cast one vote in any election or plebiscite which occurs in their locality, and is eligible to submit a petition for a general plebiscite. The Count is NOT allowed to cast a vote in a plebiscite, unless the matter concerns the Count's Household, the County Estate, or the Planet of Tavonni as a whole. The Count IS allowed to vote in elections for his locality.

Note that non-compulsory voting often allows the Count to influence the vote: he grants leave to any member of the military who wants to vote. The military personnel, generally favourable to the Count anyway, have a course of voting suggested to them via a "How To Vote" card and an educational campaign.


Originally, the estate of the Count of Tavonni consisted of the entire system of Tavonni. This expanse of territory has dwindled somewhat, due to the constitutional laws agreed to by the Count.

Crown Land is land directly owned by the Count's Household. This is also known collectively as the County Estate. Private citizens or companies may purchase freehold real estate from the County Estate. This is then considered to be "private land". The Government of Tavonni is granted land for public use ("public land") by the County Estate. Public land also includes other areas of Crown Land specifically set aside by the Count. The Government may resume private land, but only by Statute.

Resources beneath the land are NOT the possession of the owner; these are possessed by the lessee of the mineral rights for the area. If there is no stated lessee, then the implied ownership rests with the Count of Tavonni.


View the map of Tavonni. WARNING: The map is a 184k JPEG compressed file.

Name UPP Bases Remarks
Primary   Tarlac G6 II   magnitude -2.44
2   Gnat Y310000-0   tidal lock
3   Tarlac 2 Y530000-0   revolves around Tarlac 2a
1 Ring System YR00000-0    
8 Tarlac 2a Y500000-0   revolves around Tarlac 2
10 Tarlac 2b Y320000-0    
4   Tarlac 3 Y530000-0    
4 Tarlac 3a Y330000-0    
40 Tarlac 3b Y220000-0    
5   Tarlac 4 Y820000-0   volcanic
9 Tarlac 4a Y760000-0    
20 Tarlac 4b Y400000-0    
6   Tarlac 5 HAB0000-0   4 plates, 1 volc rgn. Ores, Gems
50 Tarlac 5a Y450000-0   tidal lock
7.4   The Peanuts Y000320-C   ~90,000 planetoids. Ores
8.4   *Ryzel Large GG   100,000 km radius
2 Ring System YR00000-0    
4 Ryzel 1 Y253000-0    
8 Habitatatatatat H667000-0   Ag, Or, Rad, Petro. 13 deg. C
11 Ryzel 3 Y8A5000-0   tidal lock. Ores, Gems
15 Ryzel 4 Y584000-0   retrograde
30 Ryzel 5 H465000-0   no resources
125 Tavonni B567642-D S Ag Ni Ri. 13 deg.C
200 Ryzel 7 Y236000-0   -3 deg. C
9   Tarlac 8 Y889000-0    
11 Tarlac 8a Y733000-0    
35 Tarlac 8b Y500000-0    
10   Solitaire Y996000-0    
11   Chips Y000000-0   ~10,000 planetoids
12   Martini Large GG   90,000 km radius
1 Ring System YR00000-0    
7 Tarlac 12a H664000-0   tidal lock
10 Tarlac 12b H665000-0    
13 Tarlac 12c Y500000-0   tidal lock
25 Tarlac 12d Y400000-0   tidal lock
13   Vermouth Small GG   56,000 km radius
2 Ring System YR00000-0    
3 Ring System R000000-0    
4 Tarlac 13a Y200000-0    
6 Tarlac 13b Y300000-0    
40 Tarlac 13c H656000-0   retrograde
50 Tarlac 13d Y100000-0    
14   The Ice-Cubes Y000000-0   ~40,000 planetoids
15   Scotch Small GG   27,000 km radius
10 The Rock H643000-0    


[to be created]


[1] Marc Miller, "Epithets of the Fifth Frontier War", JTAS 9, GDW, USA, 1981.
[2] -----, "Traveller News Service", JTAS 16, GDW, USA, 1983.
[3] Marc Miller, The Spinward Marches Campaign, GDW, USA, 1985.
[4] Loren Wiseman, "Contact: The Sword Worlders", JTAS 18, GDW, USA, 1983.

TRAVELLER is a registered trademark of FarFuture Enterprises.
Portions of this material are Copyright 1977-2002 Far Future Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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