Doris and Sainte Celeste

A Transhuman Space Setting

by Mark Gellis


In the wake of the enormous social changes that took place during the 21st century, many proponents of traditional faiths became more conservative about social change and more committed to their own religious views. A small minority became radicalized and engaged in violence against the practitioners of new lifestyles and new faiths. A more common reaction was a renewed commitment to traditional forms of living and worship, and a willingness to be open about that commitment even when it might lead to ridicule or social ostracism (because there will always be some people who see faith as fanaticism), combined in many cases with a renewed interest in spreading these traditional faiths either by preaching or by the establishment of new communities.

In 2094, a joint venture between the Vatican and wealthy Europeans dissatisfied with the direction society had taken settled the asteroid 48 Doris. The Vatican backed the project because the settlers had made them an offer they could not refuse. If the Church helped finance their project, the settlers would guarantee that Doris would be a Catholic nation. Catholicism would be the official state religion; while the rights of non-Catholics would be protected, the practice of other faiths would be discouraged. In addition, they agreed to establish an abbey that would serve as an outpost for Rome in the Deep Beyond.

The settlers refer to themselves as Dorisians (pronounced very much as one would pronounce "Parisians.") Most are baseline humans or upgrades who have used one of the common biomods available to prevent degeneration in microgravity. It is, in fact, a matter of pride among the Dorisians that they do not need to radically alter themselves to survive in the belt. The government is a democracy, with an elected city council of seven members elected for five-year terms and serving as legislature, executive branch, and judiciary; a separate election selects one member of the council as President. The only exception is that the abbot serves as a permanent member of the council during his tenure as abbot (so only six members of the council are elected); on the other hand, the abbot is never allowed to serve as President. This offers the Church a great deal of influence in municipal affairs.

The current President is Gaston Chevalier (pronounced "Sheh'val'ee'ay"), one of the initial backers of the project. Gaston relies heavily on his uncle, Honore Chevalier, as an advisor.

The initial group consisted of 90 settlers, more than half of them married couples (the initial group also included 15 children and three priests). Since then, the population has doubled, including six children born on Doris, the first in 2096. The settlement is thriving and a recent media release by its leaders announced that their goal is to reach a population of 1,000 by 2110. The Vatican has been so pleased by the results of their investment that they are currently in negotiation with other groups, including one based in South America, to build additional settlements.

Local industry focuses on spacecraft components (they have a good relationship with Vosper-Babbage, working with them as a supplier and a partner for outsourcing) and small spacecraft. In addition, their vatfacs and minifac workshops give them the capability to carry out a wide range of specialty projects for interested clients. The Dorisians are also beginning to make a name for themselves with the wine made from grapes grown in the farming units and the abbey's garden (the 2098 Merlot is reputed to be especially good).

48 Doris

48 Doris is about 130 miles across. It orbits the sun at an average distance of 3.1 A.U. Like most asteroids in this part of the belt, it consists primarily of silicate rocks, with small concentrations of metal ore, organic chemicals, and hydrated clays. Of course, since the asteroid masses something in the neighborhood of one quadrillion tons, the combined mass of these "small concentrations" is several trillion tons. The surface is similar to that of most large asteroids; it is airless, rocky, shattered, mountainous terrain, in light ranging from dim sunlight to starlit darkness, challenging even to those who have lived on Doris for years and dangerous to those unfamiliar with it. Loose material on the walls of impact craters, massive cracks in the rock, and similar perils await anyone going outside for a stroll. The local gravity is about five miligees.

(Those interested in the specific position of 48 Doris on a particular date can use the orbital simulator at

Habitat Statistics

The main settlement is a beehive habitat called Sainte Celeste. For the purposes of determining its statistics, it is treated as a box hull, 1,000 feet long, 1,000 feet across, and 100 feet deep. The total volume is 200,000 spaces and the surface area is 2,400 ksf. 60% of the habitat is hull or waste space, leaving 80,000 spaces for the settlers to use. The habitat is buried underneath a thick shell of rock and may be treated as having a cDR of 10 and a cPF of 500,000; it is virtually immune to any radiation damage short of a direct hit from a thermonuclear weapon. The Chp is 36,000.

The habitat (including the abbey) was designed to support up to 210 people. The present population is 182. The main components are two housing units, two farms, one factory designed to produce spacecraft components and spacecraft, one plaza, and one park. These consume 70,000 spaces at a cost of $14.2M. The actual mass of the components is 67,000 tons.

The abbey consists of one garden, a chapel equal to eight "halls" in terms of seating space, two additional "halls" used as classrooms and meeting rooms, and ten "cells" for the priests and nuns (treat as luxury cabins, but only in terms of the space allotted; the rooms are pleasant but quite spartan). The requirements here are 1,120 spaces, 222 tons, $550K, and 500 kilowatts of power. The abbey has been designed so that additional cells may be built onto it at a later date.

The other components of St. Celeste include a Command Bridge (Old), one medium PESA, one medium radar, two 2.5-Mj lasers, two vatfacs, two minifac workshops, a 10-bed surgery, a Geology lab, a Shipbuilding (Spacecraft) lab, a fusion power plant capable of producing up to 80 megawatts, relying on deuterium-tritium reactions for power, and a spaceport consisting of four 50' × 50' × 50' spacedock hangers. These components mass 700 tons, require 3,100 spaces, and cost $54M. The settlers also brought two OTVs at a cost of $24M. Finally, the settlers brought about $25M of cyberswarms and cybershells, mostly designed for mining, construction, factory work, farming, and repair operations. More than 5,000 spaces remain empty for future expansion, cargo storage, and the like.

One of the major costs involved in building Sainte Celeste was moving the components to Doris. This, and the cost of cutting the tunnels, came to about $80M. The total cost of building the city was about $200M. It is unknown exactly how much of this was contributed by the Vatican.

Saint Celeste's factory was designed to build components that could be used to expand the habitat itself (it is, after all, simply a very large spacecraft). A recent addition to the city, locally produced, is an external cradle large enough to handle vessels up to 25,000 tons. The cradle is a separate structure about 2,000 feet from the city's main airlock (just in case an incoming spacecraft has a little FUBAR event) but a pressurized underground tunnel -- with airlocks at both ends -- allows for easy movement of cargo and personnel.

The Dorisians are presently planning to expand Sainte Celeste, or possibly build a second habitat similar to it and connected to it by a pressurized tunnel.


Most of the population of Sainte Celeste is French, although there are a number of Italians and Spaniards living in the city. The official language of the city is French. Virtually all settlers have No Degeneration in Zero-G [3], Free Fall at DX [2], First Aid at IQ [1], and Vacc Suit at IQ [2]. They will also have at least one technical or professional skill at IQ, most often Agronomy [2], some specialty of Mechanic [2], some specialty of Electronics Operation [2], some specialty of Electronics [4], or some specialty of Engineering [4]. Virtually everyone will also have Duty (to Sainte Celeste, 6-) [-2]; in a small, isolated colony in the asteroid belt, there will be a few situations every once in a while where surviving means that everyone pitches in whether they want to or not.

The general mood in the settlement is one of pride and satisfaction, although there are some who feel that the Chevalier family has too much power. The culture is similar to that of the E.U., except that the population is noticeably more devout than what one normally finds on Earth these days. They are not fanatics, though. They like a good glass of wine or a rendezvous with a lover as much as their counterparts back on Earth do, but they also go to mass and confession on a regular basis because they believe in God and they believe in Catholic doctrine.

The four most powerful people in the city are Gaston Chevalier, President of Sainte Celeste, his uncle and advisor Honore Chevalier, City Councilor Dr. Annette Lachaille, and Father Xavier Minnelli, abbot of Sainte Celeste Abbey.

Gaston Chevalier

ST 11 [10]; DX 11 [10]; IQ 13 [30]; HT 11 [10]

Advantages: Ally (Gigi, 15-) [30], Ally (Uncle Honore, 15-) [30], Charisma +1 [5], Filthy Rich [50], Handsome [15], No Degeneration in Zero-G [3], Status +3 [10]*
* includes a free level of Status for being Filthy Rich

Disadvantages: Dependent NPC (Marie, 0 points or less [toddler], loved one, 15-) [-96], Duty (to Sainte Celeste, 6-) [-2], Sense of Duty (to Sainte Celeste) [-10]

Quirks: Devoted to his wife and daughter [-1], Devoutly Catholic [-1], Easily bored and not afraid to tell people they are boring him [-1]

Skills: Accounting-11 [1], Administration-14 [4], Agronomy-12 [1], Area Knowledge (Doris)-14 [2], Area Knowledge (Paris)-14 [2], Computer Operation-14 [1], Diplomacy-13 [4], Driving (Automobile)-11 [2], Economics-14 [6], First Aid-13 [1], Free Fall-11 [2], Law-11 [1], Leadership-14 [2]*, Merchant-15 [6], Piloting (High Performance Spacecraft)-11 [2], Politics-13 [2], Powerboat-11 [2], Savior-Faire-14 [2], Shipbuilding (Spacecraft)-14 [4], Vacc Suit-13 [2]
* includes bonus for Charisma

Languages: English-13 [2], French-14 [1], German-12 [1], Italian-13 [2], Spanish-12 [1]

Total Points: 148

Gaston Chevalier is 6'0", 180 lbs., in his early forties, with black hair and striking blue eyes. He made a fortune investing in aerospace companies and then sold most of his holdings to help finance the Sainte Celeste project.

The idea of leaving Paris to live in the asteroid belt was shocking enough to fashionable Paris, but shortly before leaving Earth, Gaston gave the city a second shock by marrying a woman much younger than himself and from an obscure family. His wife, Gigi, is now Chief Administrator of one of city's two farms. They are utterly devoted to one another and have one daughter, Marie, aged two.

Honore Chevalier

ST 10 [0]; DX 10 [0]; IQ 13 [30]; HT 10 [0]

Advantages: Ally (Gaston, 15-) [30], Charisma +2 [10], Filthy Rich [50], No Degeneration in Zero-G [3], Status +3 [10]*
* includes a free level of Status for being Filthy Rich

Disadvantages: Age: 60 [-30], Duty (to Sainte Celeste, 6-) [-2], Lechery [-15], Overweight [-5], Sense of Duty (to Sainte Celeste) [-10]

Quirks: Devoutly Catholic [-1], Devoted to Gaston and his family [-1], Likes humming old show tunes [-1]

Skills: Acting-13 [2], Administration-13 [2], Accounting-13 [4], Agronomy-13 [2], Area Knowledge (Doris)-14 [2], Area Knowledge (Paris)-14 [2], Bard-15 [2]*, Carousing-13 [8], Computer Operation-14 [1], Diplomacy-15 [8], Distilling-13 [2], Driving (Automobile)-10 [2], Fast-Talk-14 [4], Fencing 13- [2], Free Fall-10 [2], Guns (Pistol)-13 [2]**, Law-12 [2], Literature-12 [2], Merchant-14 [4], Politics-14 [4], Sex Appeal-15 [12], Singing 11-[2], Vacc Suit-13 [2]
* includes bonus for Charisma
** includes bonus for IQ

Languages: English-13 [2], French 14- [1], Italian-12 [1], Russian-12 [1], Spanish-12 [1]

Total Points: 149

Honore is 5'11", 190 lbs., with blue eyes and a shock of white hair. He is usually impeccably dressed in a fashionable suit. He radiates aristocratic charm. He supervises much of the farming and winemaking activities in Sainte Celeste. He generally comes across as being an easy-going, fun-loving fellow, but he is capable of being deadly serious if the situation demands it.

Dr. Annette Lachaille

ST 9 [-10]; DX 12 [20]; IQ 14 [45]; HT 11 [10]

Advantages: No Degeneration in Zero-G [3], Attractive [5], Status +2 [5]*, Very Wealthy [30]
* includes a free level of Status for Very Wealthy

Disadvantages: Duty (to Sainte Celeste, 6-) [-2], Selfish [-5], Sense of Duty (to Sainte Celeste) [-10]

Quirks: Arrogant [-1], Devoutly Catholic [-1], Wants to end the dominance of the Chevalier family in Sainte Celeste [-1], Thinks she would do a better job as President than any of the Chevaliers [-1]

Skills: Acting-12 [1/2], Administration-13 [1], Area Knowledge (Doris)-14 [1], Area Knowledge (Paris)-14 [1], Computer Operation-15 [2], Diagnosis-14 [4], Diplomacy-14 [4], Driving (Automobile)-12 [2], First Aid-15 [2], Genetics (Genetic Engineering)-14 [8], Genetics (Tissue Engineering)-13 [4], Law-11 [1/2], Physician-15 [6], Politics-15 [4], Research-14 [2], Sex Appeal-12 [4], Surgery-15 [12]

Languages: English-13 [1], French-14 [0], Italian-13 [1], Spanish-13 [1]

Total Points: 148

5'6", 140 lbs., with red hair and green eyes. Dr. Lachaille is a brilliant physician and genetic engineer. She is attractive, but may come across as cold and calculating. She is the chief administrator for one of the city's two vatfacs. She is highly skilled at what she does, and devoted to the success of Sainte Celeste, but arrogant and convinced that the city would do better under her leadership than that of the Chevalier family.

Father Xavier Minnelli

ST 11 [10]; DX 11 [10]; IQ 13 [30]; HT 11 [10]

Advantages: Voice [10], Charisma +1 [5], Clerical Investment +3 [15]

Disadvantages: Duty (to Sainte Celeste, 6-) [-2], Sense of Duty (to the Vatican) [-10]

Quirks: Devoutly Catholic [-1], Stern [-1]

Skills: Acting-15 [6], Administration-14 [4], Agronomy-13 [2], Area Knowledge (Vatican City)-14 [2], Area Knowledge (Doris)-14 [2], Bard-16 [2]* **, Diplomacy-16 [6]*, Driving (Automobile)-11 [2], Free Fall-11 [2], Law-13 [4], Leadership-14 [2]**, Performance/Ritual-14 [4], Politics-16 [6]*, Research-14 [4], Theology (Christian)-16 [10], Writing-14 [4], Vacc Suit-12 [1]
* includes bonus for Voice
** includes bonus for Charisma

Languages: English-12 [1], French-13 [2], Italian-13 [0], Latin-13 [2], Spanish-12 [1]

Total Points: 145

Father Xavier is a tall, thin man of striking appearance, 6'0" and 170 lbs., with brown eyes and brown hair. He is a very serious man, but capable of warmth; he genuinely likes the people he lives and works with here in Sainte Celeste. Even so, his ultimate loyalty is to Rome and its objectives in the Deep Beyond.

Adventure Seeds

So, what does one do with small, newly settled city of devout Catholics in the middle of the asteroid belt? Here are a few ideas.

One can simply set the campaign on Doris, making the heroes members of the community. The opportunities here involve the simple day-to-day struggle for survival, not unlike those faced by any small, isolated community, exploring the asteroid (which has a surface area of about 40,000 square miles), intrigue among the leadership of the city (including the machinations of an abbot who may be receiving instructions from the Vatican to further some secret agenda), business dealings with other nations and groups in the belt, and surviving attacks by pirates, terrorists, etc.

Outsiders might be lured to Doris by rumors that the settlers have purchased plans for a model of AKV and are building their own secret navy. Their factory would be ideally suited for this purpose. If these rumors are true, a considerable number of these mechanical monsters might now be hidden somewhere on the asteroid. Even worse, if the programmers made errors creating the infomorphs for the AKVs, some of them may have gone rogue. Or perhaps a small cadre of fanatics is planning to use the AKVs to seize power or to wage a covert religious war against other communities in the asteroid belt.

Finally, on Earth, the establishment of Sainte Celeste is controversial. The Vatican has not attempted to expand its territory for hundreds of years, but now it is seeking formal recognition of this new nation, which some people are calling a "Papal State." Rumors of dark conspiracies are racing around the global web. A war of memes is at hand, and it a war that might escalate into real violence if the people involved feel that the only way to win is to eliminate members of the opposition.

Article publication date: January 10, 2003

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