By Thomas L Bont, Mark L Williamson and Christopher J Lawton
Members of LaTUGA
Art by andi jones
Location: 0201 (replaces Saxe), Five Sisters, Spinward Marches
GMs may replace the existing entry with this one, or select another appropriate system.
UPP: A65583 G P
- A – 10K diameter
- 6 – Standard Atmosphere
- 5 – 50% Hydrographics
- 6 – Millions of Inhabitants
- 8 – Civil Service Bureaucracy
- 3 – Law Level – Weapons of strict military nature prohibited.
- G – Occasional Non-Imperial technology.
- P – Planetoid/Asteroid belt in system.
- Class B Starport with extensive orbital and ground facilities designed for bulk passenger handling.
In a move of cooperation unprecedented in known space, all the major races (and many of the minor ones) determined to sponsor a cooperative center of higher learning. Spearheaded by the Aslan Hierate, Unity University was founded as the first jointly-sponsored, cross-race educational institution. The intent of the endowing races was to build a center of learning and culture where the galaxy’s finest minds would gather to learn and then take that knowledge back to their respective societies. The fruits of research performed at Unity University were to be distributed to all participating governments so each could benefit from their investment and justify the university’s existence and expense. The effort has been a complete success.
Determining the final location of Unity was the first of many obstacles confronting the sponsors. Each government initially demanded that the university be located near its own territory. Unfortunately, the only centrally located space was within the Imperium and a truly neutral system was required. Furthermore, the Zhodani Consulate would not agree to locations anywhere trailing of the Spinward Marches. No single location would truly satisfy all the participants but a compromise location was found which left all the races at least equally dissatisfied.
That location was the planet Saxe. Saxe, an underdeveloped world, located in a neutral system within the Spinward Marches was a politically acceptable location. Unfortunately, its state of development led directly to problems in building and maintaining the university. Conveniently, the system was within reach of moderate off-world resources and could be jointly developed by the sponsoring governments.
While Unity was formally founded in 1012, many years were required before the university was ready to accept students. Saxe’s ground and space facilities were far from adequate to support the proposed university. Construction of such a major project would have been difficult if just one race competed for the numerous construction contracts. Awarding contracts and coordinating the efforts of companies from seven different races created a bureaucracy that may well outlast the university. Staffing the university proved equally difficult and costly. Competition for positions at Unity University was (and remains) strong and each race was determined to place as many of its own citizens on staff as possible.
Unity University began accepting students in 1032. The graduating class of 1036 was 1700 strong. Most of those students came from the Imperium but a significant percentage were Vargr. Graduating class sizes steadily increased in size at 20 to 30% per annum for the first 20 years of operation and have since stabilized at about 200,000 students per class. The student body has grown much more races diverse over time as well.
The thoroughness of the entrance exams and dedication of the staff insure that dropout rates rarely exceed 10% of the class. The professors of Unity University operate under one edict, "Produce qualified graduates!" The pressure to "publish or perish" is not an issue for the staff or administrators, although most still produce highly prized papers. Access to the massive resources of the university and the prestige of holding a position here has produced an academic staff that is unequalled in known space. Resources are rarely a problem as the sponsor races almost compete to contribute to the school. Indeed, serious negotiations are occasionally undertaken to impose spending limits though none have yet been successful. What many called a foolish pipe dream has succeeded beyond any of the founder’s wildest hopes.
While the administration of Unity University has been very successful, there were serious staffing problems to overcome in the beginning. In the early years, sponsors tried repeatedly to place someone from their respective governments as Dean of Unity. When it was clear there would probably never be a consensus, all agreed on the Aslan who spearheaded the campaign in the first place, K’rak mon Gr’yl (She Who Bites Tails). She made an excellent dean and over the next 10 years, Unity University grew to become the place of learning and tolerance she had envisioned. When her 10- year term of office was up, the sponsor governments again fought over the position of dean. Serious consideration was given to lifting the 10-year term of office limit so that K’rak mon Gr’yl could serve another term. K’rak mon Gr’yl refused the honor and suggested that if the sponsor governments could not arrange for a truly neutral dean, then perhaps they should look beyond themselves for someone. There were many debates and a decision was finally reached. The Board of Governors final decision surprised all the involved races, including the Aslan. The employees of Unity University were to elect the Dean from their own ranks. There was one unusual stipulation; the new dean would have to relinquish all citizenship to its home government and would not be allowed to regain that citizenship once its term of office was up. The former dean would have to remain on Saxe in a teaching position (and possibly be reelected Dean following 10 years of teaching) or retire to one of the small towns that have sprung up around the various campuses. Retired and active deans would be allowed travel papers and could roam as they wished, but would have no special rights inside any governmental province.
This had a surprising affect. Nearly all instructors, professors, and staff relinquished their citizenship to their home provinces within two days of receiving the news and Saxe was renamed Unity. This caused a great deal of excitement in some circles but when it became clear Unity had no intention of declaring itself "independent" the crises waned. Since then, Unity University has become a truly neutral training ground for any subject imaginable. If it is not taught at Unity, then it cannot be learned.
It is noteworthy that there have been three Vargr Deans. Whether this is because Vargr are simply more adept politicians than other sophont races or because they just seem to excel in giving orders is unknown, but it has opened a whole new area of research on Unity. Either way, it has given all Vargr a new sense of pride in their race.
Board of Governors
A Board of Governors was formed by the member races to "manage" Unity University. Each race supplies one governor. There are currently seven major races and 17 minor races contributing to Unity. In the beginning, there were only five minor race members on the board. Over time another 12 have applied (by promising to contribute resources) and have been accepted. All board resolutions require a 3/4 majority to pass. The major races occasionally pressure the minor races into accepting their terms, though this is becoming increasingly uncommon as the number of minority members of the board grows. If the minor races ever achieve a 3/4 majority, there is sure to be a reaction from the major races. Strikingly, the Aslan have sided with the minor races on numerous occasions. It is interesting to note that the Zhodani governor always seems to know "which way the wind is blowing" and what appropriate actions to take. The past few years have seen an increase in Anti-Psi helmet use in the meeting room.
The board currently resides on Unity, as distances involved are too great to meet elsewhere. The term of office is 6 years, though many like the duty and decide to stay on. As this is an appointed position (and quite prestigious these days) the board members are usually from the political elite and have the acumen to acquire additional appointments. Quite a few have decided to retire on Unity afterwards (but none have yet given up its citizenship to its home province).
The chairman of the Board of Governors (elected by a simple majority of the other members) is in charge of the token force assigned to Unity for protection. Each member race is expected to supply at least one ship to the task force. As this is usually considered easy duty and there is little of strategic importance on Unity, generally the oldest ships of the respective fleets are assigned this duty. There is currently 1 battleship (very old and usually in port for repairs), 2 cruisers, 3 destroyers and any number of smaller support vessels. If the time ever came for a serious showdown, there would be a race to see who could get out-system the fastest to alert their respective governments.
Admittance to Unity University is based strictly on academic achievement. As Unity is essentially an independent entity, there are no strings to pull or buttons to push. The Acceptance Committee at Unity University operates as a blind committee. No one beyond a few high-level university administrators is cleared to know who sits on this committee. Committee membership is a yearly duty that rotates through the entire academic staff in a semi-random fashion. Professors typically sit on the membership committee for one year out of every fifteen. Even the dean is not exempt from this duty if selected. The Acceptance Committee is also charged with the evaluation of acceptance exams and handles cases of academic ‘coasting’ by alumni.
Each world usually has its own screening process to limit the number of people taking the Unity entrance exam to manageable numbers. Local education departments administer screening tests drafted by Unity University personnel. These tests, and the final entrance exam, are updated every year. Applicants that pass the screening test receive round trip middle passage and accommodations (courtesy of Unity) to the nearest Class IV or V starport for the entrance exam. Screening tests are scheduled such that successful applicants will need to leave for the actual entrance exam immediately (i.e. bring your bags to the test). Unity University contracts local merchant vessels for so called "Baby Runs" for these particular events.
Unity entrance exams are given at every Class V and IV starport on a yearly basis. The personal records of those that pass this stringent battery of tests (a three-day mental and physiological ordeal) are forwarded to the Unity Acceptance Committee. Six to eight months later, depending upon travel times, prospective students are notified of their results. Successful applicants are awarded round trip middle passage tickets to Unity. Departure dates and travel itineraries are arranged to ensure that new students arrive at Unity coincident with the beginning of a new class. These arrival times are not negotiable. Depending upon location, applicants may have little to no advance warning of their departure times. Applicants may take the entrance exam any number of times but are limited to one attempt per year (and one free passage to the starport). Local planetary screening policies may or may not require that the applicant retake screening tests for each attempt.
Individuals born on Unity may attend the university as students but face the same entrance requirements as any other sophonts. Due to the proximity of the University, the lower educational system of Unity is among one of the best in known space. Consequently, there are a disproportionate number of natives attending and graduating.
Individuals born on non-sponsor worlds may take the test at any Class V or IV starport, though they must make their own travel arrangements. The number of non-sponsor government students attending Unity University is less than one percent. The Minor Races voice the strongest arguments against this policy but have been unable to get the entry requirements changed. The Minor Races feel that races that send students to Unity University should have to pay for the privilege. This is one area where the Aslan are in constant conflict with the Minor Races.
Alumni of Unity University are not required to take the acceptance test again for further study. They are automatically accepted. However, Unity University will not pay for passage to Unity for continuing education. Each student must make travel arrangements for themselves or remain on Unity after graduation and immediately enter graduate studies.
The curriculum of Unity University includes virtually any subject that can be taught in a classroom and many that are not. Classes range from weapons training to outdoor skills to professional and scientific skills. Most training dealing with thievery and strict military applications are difficult to qualify for (or forbidden by policy) so students may have difficulty acquiring this sort of education at Unity (though there may be any number of unofficial ‘tutors’ available for those in the know). Many social skills, such as carousing, do not lend themselves to the classroom either, though a healthy after class culture has arisen to provide these experiences. GMs should exercise good judgment when allowing PCs to generate skills through attending classes at Unity or else they may turn a shining example of civilization into a seeming den of cut throats.
There are degree fields for all sciences: social, technical, engineering, business, etc. Degree titles are Journeyman, Adept, and Master. The Journeyman degree usually lasts 4 years. The Adept represents a more in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and usually requires an additional 2 years. The Master degree represents the pinnacle of learning and usually requires an additional 2 to 4 years of training and research beyond Adept although in some ‘esoteric’ fields up to 10 or even 15 more years may be required to reach mastery.
Earning a degree at Unity University and reentering society usually guarantees at least a 25% to 50% increase in starting salary. A large and growing number of mega-corporations are finding Unity University graduates in their senior ranks.
There is a non-University-sponsored Psionic Institute on Unity. This is a source of no little concern to the Imperium. Its existence is usually overlooked due to the overt benefits the Imperium receives from Unity University itself. Within the Imperium publicity about this branch of the Institute is actively discouraged.
In the early years, the presence of the university was greatly resented by the natives of Saxe. There were aliens ‘running all over the place’ and the local population did not like it at all. But as time wore on, it became clear that Unity University was good for business. The economy was undergoing what appeared to be a permanent upswing. No matter the decisions made concerning the university, it always turned out for the best. When Unity University proposed that the planet’s name be changed to Unity in response to the dictates of the sponsor governments, the motion was passed in record time with nearly 98% approval. Since then, over half of the planetary economy has been converted to servicing Unity University.
There are hardly any questions related to race on Unity in a social setting today. It is a major faux pas to even bring it up. First year students quickly learn this and as time goes by learn to take advantage of it. There are many upper-classman willing to devote time to tutoring. When a Vargr is having problems with Jump Space Physics, he rarely cares if it is an Aslan or another Vargr that is giving him the help, as long as he learns the material. Moreover, in some instances, learning from someone of another race is beneficial as it generally leads to a completely different mode of thinking about a problem. Unfortunately, this is not so in the "real world" and many Unity University graduates report a sort of culture shock on returning home to find the old prejudices still in place.
There will always those that cannot abide by this policy. At least one first year student or collections of students believe there should be race-specific divisions in berthing, commissary privileges, and training schedules. Occasionally these students come to blows (or worse). But the most basic tenet on Unity is education, and when the planetary police (heavily augmented by the multi-government security force stationed there) comes in to break it up and send the offending students back home, affairs quickly return to normal.
How to Game Unity
There are many ways to use Unity in a campaign. Here are three:
1) As a starting point for a campaign.
Starting out on Unity is just like starting out on any other planet in the Traveller Universe. The characters can simply start the game as students (or have an adventurous time simply getting to Unity) or the GM may require the players to roll the average of their character’s stats or less for acceptance and "Boom" they are there. They can choose to just live on Unity in a support-type capacity; working for the university in the technical services or administration department or working for any of the hundreds of other businesses that have sprung up around the campuses to support them. Getting a job in any of these other capacities is handled just as in the GURPS Basic Job Table.
However, if the characters wish to attend Unity University, they should take the advantage "Unusual Background – Unity University Student" worth 5 points. It is quite possible to play the entire campaign on Unity as there are almost certainly foreign agents stationed there to gather information for their respective governments before the university officially releases it. This could lead to adventures by itself.
Earning a Degree
If the characters are students attending Unity University, the GM may wish to use game mechanics to make the characters earn their degree. In order for the characters to successfully graduate from Unity University, they must roll the average of all their Stats or less for each year in school to graduate. Round to the nearest whole number.
Four successful rolls indicate that the character has graduated. Graduates acquire the advantages "Unusual Background - Unity University Graduate" and "Reputation – Attended Unity University" (see table below for status bonus).
If a roll is failed, another year will be required for graduation (the success roll for that additional year is made with a –1 modifier). Two consecutive failures indicate that the character has failed miserably and been expelled. Failed students acquire the advantages "Unusual Background - Was Accepted to Unity University" and "Reputation – Attended Unity University +1" (see table below) through normal character point expenditure. If the character wishes to remain on Unity, he may seek employment in any of the industries that have popped up or simply become a drifter.
If the character gets a critical success for any of the years in school and graduates in the minimum time allotted, then the character graduates with honors. Two such critical successes earn high honors. Three critical successes earn salutatorian. Four critical successes earn the status of Valedictorian. These advantages are subject to the associated character point cost (a player that earns advanced honors and does not wish to pay for them with character points has the option of declining – the character may simply be an underachiever).
Any failed roll limits the character to a maximum of "Normal Graduation" regardless of any other critical successes achieved in the process.
Benefits of Attending Unity University
If the character graduates, consult the table below for a list of advantages and special reputations he receives (and must buy with character points).
Once a character has finished school (either through graduation or failure), Unity University provides a middle passage ticket back to the character’s homeworld. It may be redeemed at any time.
Successfully completing a graduate degree increases the characters reputation. Failing out of a graduate program has no ill effects on the advantages already earned. Multiple degrees of the same level do not increase advantages.
2) As an Unusual Background
If used as an Unusual Background, then characters simply choose the different advantages and disadvantages from below in the Mandatory Advantages/Disadvantages for Unity University Students Table and from the optional Advantages and Disadvantages.
Optional Rule: Simply choosing the advantages and disadvantages should be limited to the Normal Graduation equivalency.
Suggested Point Levels for characters upon graduation from Unity University.
Journeyman Degree 100-150 points
Adept Degree 125-175 points
Master Degree 150-300 points
There are no "skill awards." The player selects the skills that would be appropriate and justifiable for the degree sought (with GM acceptance). In this instance, Unity University is a tool to help GMs and Players justify skills.
A good starting point is a 25-50 point character and 20-30 character points per year at Unity University. Players can put no more than twice the character points in a skill than years at Unity: 4 years at Unity University, then only 8 points in any one skill learned there (above and beyond what is already known).
These 20-30 points per year can be used for stat gains at the normal rules cost (or house rules).
If players are gaming on Unity and their characters are students, then this number should be cut down to prevent characters from becoming over-inflated.
3) The players may start the game involved in the founding or construction of the university (or in continuing construction of a functioning Unity University). The construction of Unity University was riddled with intrigue of all sorts: sabotage, graft, espionage, etc. The range of possibilities are unlimited (imagine Disney World constructed by the UN!).
- Owners of a struggling construction firm trying to fulfill the contract of a lifetime (and facing many unethical competitors/governments)
- Smugglers supplying goods to contractors or construction workers (anything from stolen solar panels to proscribed drugs)
- Spies trying to plant surveillance equipment or suborn the staff
- Saboteurs trying to disrupt the construction or plant doomsday devices
- Union rabble rousers or strike breakers
- Special governmental or commercial agents investigating graft (or any other crime – note that what is considered criminal in one culture may be considered quite ethical by another)
- Simple (or not so simple) construction workers caught up in a random plot (see above)
Advantages and Disadvantages
Mandatory Advantages/Disadvantages for Unity University Students Table
Did not graduate but did attend Unity University
Unusual Background – Was accepted to Unity University
Unusual Background – Unity University Graduate
Reputation +1 (all who review the character's records)
Honors/High Honors Graduation
Unusual Background – Unity University Graduate
Reputation +2 (all who review the character's records)
Unusual Background – Unity University Graduate
Reputation +3 (all who review the character's records)
Unusual Background – Unity University Graduate
Reputation +4 (all who review the character's records)
There are new Advantages available for characters attending or working at Unity University. These are optional.
Traveler’s Aid Society5 points or the GM's discretion
Through either work or special studies, TAS has decided to award you a membership. Good job!
As per the Basic Book. Good examples would be an old professor, someone on the Board of Governors, anybody else employed by Unity University, one of the many different spies working on Unity, etc.
Unity University would make a powerful patron if on assignment for the university. Senior members of the staff, administrators, and members of the Board of Governors will also serve as patrons.
There are new Disadvantages available for characters attending Unity University or for characters working there. These are optional except for Loss of Galactic Citizenship which is required of former deans as described above.
Race Naivete’ -5 points/level
You think life off of Unity is still as easy and simple as it used to be. Everyone is your friend, no matter what they look like, and you find it hard to believe that someone from another race would take advantage of you just because you are (insert race here). As such, you receive a –1/level to all Will Rolls when resisting suggestions from members of other races.
Race Liberal -5 points
You harbor no preconceived notions about other races and treat them all with equal respect. This produces a –2 reaction penalty to members of you own race who do not have this disadvantage and see you interacting with members of different races as you would your own. This disadvantage bestows a +1 reaction modifier to members of other races not actively hostile to your own. Relations with races that are actively hostile suffer a further –1 reaction modifier (you must be up to something sneaky).
All Theory/No Reality -1 points/level
You excelled in all your theoretical coursework but always had trouble with labs. Characters with this disadvantage make excellent designers but poor craftsman. Levels of this disadvantage must be paired with specific mechanic/engineering/operation/craft skills. The character suffers a –1 modifier/level to actually using the selected skill (including defaults) to operate, build, repair, or modify equipment (there are no penalties for design, intuiting functions, or reverse engineering).
Loss of Galactic Citizenship – Unity Resident -20 points
NO citizen rights off Unity. No (or close to none) due process, no licenses for practicing law, medicine, piloting, credit, etc. You are the equivalent of a foreign national with no embassy. You are a legal alien, but your rights are restricted depending on the province you are currently in. It does bestow an additional +1 reputation to all that know about it though. The local representative on the Board of Governors has permission to grant release of citizenship from his or her province. This disadvantage is required for Deans and optional for any employee of Unity University. Students are usually forbidden this disadvantage by their respective provinces (they want you back!).
There is no "Unity Citizenship," per se. Since Saxe was originally a neutral planet when it was literally taken over by the original university sponsors, it effectively belongs to the sponsoring race by fiat. Anyone can apply for Unity Resident Status without giving up their rights in their respective provinces. It usually takes about two days for the paperwork to be processed. Undocumented, non-residents are summarily deported. Unity Resident Status is nothing more than a change of address and grants no special benefits beyond protection from deportation.
Deans and former deans are literally "beings without homes," and can apply for Unity Resident Status. In effect, they become legal aliens of all provinces. They are not allowed to relocate off Unity and are only allowed travel visas to other provinces. These visas are temporary and usually expire at the end of their business.
Jobs at Unity University
Expanded Job Table for Unity
Instructor (Academic Advisor/Tutor):
Professor (guides multiple Instructors):
College President (manages multiple Professors and Instructors):
Professors are never hired off the street. They must first work as an Instructor for four years before qualifying for a chaired position. The Board of Governors can make recommendations, but the final decision to promote, hire, or fire instructors comes from the Acceptance Committee. College Presidents are selected from the Professors of that college by popular vote every four years (the dean holds a veto though it is rarely exercised).
Article publication date: March 5, 1999
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