New Hai Phong
New Hai Phong, sometimes rendered New Haiphong, is an economic powerhouse of the Sol Alliance funded by Hephaestus Industries. The capital of New Hai Phong is Cua Song, built around the coast of a large freshwater sea. Tobacco is the main export of New Hai Phong, serving as the planet’s main claim to fame. The primary language is Sol Common, though the spoken Hai Phongese dialect is notably different. New Hai Phong Common, or NHP Common, is much more tonal-based than Sol Common and has a distinctive accent. Freespeak is also somewhat common on New Hai Phong.
Water covers about 63% of the surface of New Hai Phong with one large, snaking landmass dotted with seas and lakes called Nha O covering the rest of the planet. Nha O is mostly covered in a savannah-like environment, with deserts closer to the equator and some swamps dotting the landscape. New Hai Phong has a near-breathable surface atmosphere and a similar gravity to Earth. The only equipment needed to breathe comfortably on the surface is a respirator mask. New Hai Phong orbits a binary star, called Mau Sang and Tia Sang, that keeps the planet relatively hot. The average temperature at the equator is 36°C (97°F), 30°C (86°F) at the 35th parallel during the summer, 22°C (72°F) at the 35th parallel during the winter, and 10°C (50°F) at the poles. Hai Phongese years are about ten Terran months and, due to the planet’s orbit, the cooler seasons are about two Terran months shorter than the hotter seasons. Heavy winds and monsoons hit much of Nha O during the monsoon season which starts towards the end of spring and ends during mid-fall.
Most of the indigenous fauna that live on New Hai Phong are similar to mammals, birds, or fish. A few notable creatures include the cua quy, co duyen, and zai nhieu nai. Cua quy are dog-sized, crab-like creatures that live on the beaches of Nha O. They burrow into the sand and attack unsuspecting prey to lay their eggs in the corpses. Luckily, cua quy completely ignore humans and some even show signs of a “human allergy”. The domesticated co duyen, which look like a mix between a rabbit, a cat, and a fox, are popular pets for their endearing appearance and undying loyalty. Wild co duyen travel in small packs out in the more densely forested regions of Nha O. Zai nhieu nai look like an obese cross between pig and deer and have been domesticated for their soft fur, fatty meat, and rich milk. Special mention goes to the nguoi jan which are bipedal, ape-like creatures lacking in fur. Nguoi jan look vaguely similar to humans and have shown impressive intelligence. There has even been talk of fully uplifting nguoi jan, though these plans have yet to go anywhere.
A majority of flora on New Hai Phong are lush grasses that cover much of Nha O. In particular, there is the hoa lua co that appears similar to wheat with vibrant, blooming flowers. Hoa lua co is often collected to decorate homes or to process into hoa flour. Birch-like trees dot the savannahs of Nha O, with the Nha O Ngot La Tree often cultivated for its tasty leaves.
Population and Major Cities
The total population of New Hai Phong is around 1.28 billion based on the 2460 Census. This population is almost entirely focused in the three megalopolises with about 41.5% of the population living in Cua Song, 32.1% in Nhom Hy Vong, 26.2% in Ton Gwai Pei, and roughly 0.2% outside of these megalopolises.
Like the other three megalopolises, Cua Song is made up of modular “habitation cubes” that are essentially extremely compact and airtight pieces of a home that are combined to form proper buildings. Hab-cube buildings are organized by blocks. Cua Song is built along much of the Sanh Song Sea, a freshwater sea rich with life and resources and a source of pride of the denizens of the megalopolis. Cua Song is known for its very scenic seaside view and beautifully decorated hab-buildings, becoming the main tourist location on New Hai Phong.
Grand hotels can be found along the coast and uptown in Cua Song, often connected to the Ngoi Sao Chuyen Spaceport by tramways. Minibuses shuttle tourists downtown to neon-lit nightclubs, vibrant lounges, and lively night markets while taxis bring others uptown to the elegant restaurants, ornate water puppet theaters, pampering spas, and classy music clubs. Some tourists wander the busy streets, trying local street foods like soy-fish dua zi mon and tea-soaked hoa bread or snapping pictures with friendly locals. Bullet trains shoot out of Cho Nga Tu Station bringing more adventurous tourists to Ton Gwai Pei and workers off to Hephaestus Industries’ Sieng Nang Zi Complex.
Few tourists, however, visit the poorer areas of Cua Song far away from the Sanh Song Sea where the streets are almost empty, the rundown hab-buildings are covered in political graffiti, and the sidewalks are littered in sand-covered garbage. Southern Cua Song, often called Ghe Song, was built over barren desert. Extreme sandstorms in Ghe Song are a constant problem during “monsoon” season, often leading to blockfams organizing strikes on other blocks for much needed supplies.
Some notable blockfams in Cua Song include the peppy, friendly folk of Mat Troi Block, the traditional, yet open-minded residents of Bieu Tuong Block, and the talented and humble artisans of Tinh Than Block. Some notable blockfams in Ghe Song include the shady, dark-loving recluses of Tinh Than Block and the anti-corporate, passionate graffiti artists of Noi Day Block.
Nhom Hy Vong
Nhom Hy Vong is by far the area with the heaviest Hephaestus presence and where much of the planet’s industry comes from. The megalopolis sprawls along the Sea of Ca Ngay, the largest freshwater sea on New Hai Phong, and is divided in two by the Suot Maan River. To the east lies Gung Hy Vong, home to many factories and office buildings, and to the west is Nong Hy Vong which is packed with apartments and greenhouses.
In Gung Hy Vong, Hephaestus Industries owns a massive number of manufacturing plants, office buildings, and industrial factories. A good number of Hephaestus’ employees on New Hai Phong work in Gung Hy Vong, with most of the rest working in the Sieng Nang Zi Complex that connects to the city by bullet train. Nong Hy Vong is a stark contrast with brightly colored hab-cube buildings topped with gardens and giant glass greenhouses spread throughout the area. The region is known for its wonderful interior decorating and tasty vegetable dishes.
Some notable blockfams in Gung Hy Vong include the cold and distant folk of Khong Bo Cam Block and the stepford smilers of Gia Mao Block. Some notable blockfams in Nong Hy Vong include the extremely religious residents of Ton Giao Block and the family-orientated farmers of Nuoi Faan Block.
Ton Gwai Pei
Though the smallest of the megalopolises, Ton Gwai Pei is much more densely packed. Towering skyscrapers made of hab-cubes and designed with the help of feng shui consultants loom over the crowded, narrow streets of the city. Built on the coast of the Sanh Song Sea opposite to Cua Song, Ton Gwai Pei is known for its gambling houses, seedy nightclubs, and open-secret of a criminal underbelly. Tourists looking for more “excitement” often take the bullet train from safe, peaceful Cua Song to tangle in Ton Gwai Pei’s grime and bustle.
Unlike much of Ton Gwai Pei, or the rest of New Hai Phong for that matter, there is a sizable area called Zau Gwai Jyu where public intoxication is tolerated. This is mostly due to the heavy handed control the local crime syndicate have over Zau Gwai Jyu. The Pou Zyu Sau, as they are called, keep a grip over the management of Zau Gwai Jyu with lots of money, a decent amount of threats, and a handful of murders. The Pou Zyu Sau run multiple “hedon dens” where customers can partake in any drug, narcotic, or alcohol that won’t clog the vents.
Some notable blockfams in Ton Gwai Pei include the sultry, hedonistic gamblers of Con Seoi Block, the fatalistic artists of Tu Su Son Block, and the cutthroat businesspeople of Cong Hoi Block. One notable blockfam in Zau Gwai Jyu are the strong willed, drug free folk of Seng Tinh Zau Block.
- 37.3% Hai Phongese
- 62.5% Other Human Ethnicities
- 0.1% Skrell
- 0.1% Unathi
Though many on New Hai Phong consider themselves agnostic, there are strong sects of various folk religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Caodaism, and Taoism.
Life on New Hai Phong
For most of New Hai Phong's inhabitants, living conditions are poor. The metropolises have double-populated hab-cube buildings to save space causing privacy and alone time to become rare. This has lead to “blockmates” treating one another like family leading to a group of blockmates became known as a blockfam. Blockfams have adopted a very communal attitude and are incredibly tight-knit. Loyalty to one’s blockfam is fierce and passionate, sometimes causing disputes between bigger blockfams. Blocks inhabited by poorer citizens are often in poor repair with jury-rigging solutions and shoddy fortifications generally left to local communities.
Corruption is also a constant problem on New Hai Phong. All three of the planet's metropolises struggle with bribery at every level, from local police departments to top officials. It is an open secret that Hephaestus is behind most of these bribes as a means of retaining financial control over the planet. The practice of bribery itself is essential to everyday life on New Hai Phong; shopkeeps unable to pay "fees" to the city police find their business constantly raided on suspicions of every offence imaginable. Similarly, hapless tourists have found themselves booted off of the planet for non-specific crimes against local communities after failing to provide supplementary "administration fees" with their travel papers.
Drug abuse and addiction, excluding smoking drugs and especially alcoholism, are also major problems due to the variety of high-stress situations both Hephaestus employment and the planet place on many citizens. This problem is only worsened by the fact that the legal drinking age on New Hai Phong is 13 and the legal age to buy alcohol is 17, leading to numerous teenagers falling to binge drinking. Though many drink, it is considered almost disgusting to be inebriated in public. Heavy fines and mandatory community service in grueling environments are given to those caught intoxicated, along with steep shaming by peers. In recent years, however, there has been a steep decline in teenage alcoholism, giving hope that the next generation may face fewer problems with drug abuse and addiction.
By leveraging their building rights on New Hai Phong, Hephaestus Industries managed to seep into every crack of the planet. Large swathes of land on New Hai Phong are owned by Hephaestus, connected to the three megalopolises through bullet train networks. Hephaestus Industries has built numerous industrial factories, manufacturing plants, and research labs over the landscape, with the largest complexes being nicknamed cities. Hephaestus’ headquarters on New Hai Phong is the Sieng Nang Zi Complex, just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the outskirts of Cua Song.
Thanks to Hephaestus, New Hai Phong’s economy is comparatively a roaring success. Though the planet loses significant GDP from corruption, unemployment figures are through the floor and New Hai Phong maintains zero planetary debt. Hephaestus provides around 70% of all employment with 15% of Hephaestus jobs dealing with management and the remaining 85% dealing with all kinds of manufacturing, often the manufacturing of atmospheric equipment.
Very few people are known to populate the deserts outside of the three metropolises or surrounding towns. What limited observations have found is that desert dwellers live in rough, almost primitive settlements and take on a tribe-like society. Most are hunters or moisture farmers while the rest help keep cook, clean, and repair for the settlement.
Hai Phongese Cash Crops
Tobacco is the leading claim to fame for New Hai Phong, which is said to produce nearly all of the galaxy’s tobacco. However, tobacco has slowly lost popularity due to the outlawing and growing stigma of tobacco usage in many systems. Ironically enough, because of the thin atmosphere and airtight homes, few on New Hai Phong have even smoked tobacco and chewing tobacco is frowned upon because of its harsh effects on health and appearance.
New Hai Phong has gradually branched out to other crops such as tea, coffee beans, cocoa beans, rice, soybean, and sugarcane. In particular, Hai Phongese tea is very popular as both a local and an exported product with many locals drinking tea with almost every meal.
Much of New Hai Phongese fashion is very practical, modifying both traditional and modern clothing to suit the environment of New Hai Phong. Conical hats, especially non la, are commonplace to shield citizens from the sweltering suns and heavy rains. For those in desert regions, a transparent, knee-length veil is attached to the rim of the hat to block the harsh effects of sandstorms. Conical hats are often left plain or decorated to better suit the style of one’s clothing. The most basic New Hai Phongese look is a conical hat, a thin tank top, airy shorts, and sneakers with breathable socks. Basic athletic gear is also common.
Traditional fashion is still somewhat popular on New Hai Phong. Ao dai are commonplace, though not without changes for the New Hai Phongese climate. The dress is sometimes sleeveless or cropped to the knee or mid-thigh and the trousers are sometimes made tighter and often cut to match the shorter dress styles. New Hai Phongese ao yem have mostly remained unchanged from the traditional style with the backless garments remaining popular year round. The slightly less common cheongsam are usually made more breathable and are similarly cropped. Changshan are usually made more form fitting, and some New Hai Phongese changshan are styled to be worn open, whether with an undershirt or not.
As the respirator mask is an essential part of life on New Hai Phong, it has become a staple part of local fashion. Respirators are often made in vibrant colors and decorated with stickers, neon-tubing, beads, LEDs, or whatever else the owner prefers. Some more skilled in engineering modify theirs by adding visors, changing the shape, or attaching additional pieces.
Traditional New Hai Phongese cuisine uses animal meat and the hearty plants native to New Hai Phong. The resulting palate consists of soft, sour meats balanced against tough, sweet herb stalks. These herbs are often sucked on after the main course for flavor and nutrition. Most meals are entirely plant-based due to the inflated price of meat, leading to dietary supplement pills and gummies becoming commonplace. For the lower and lower-middle classes, rice, tofu, and other soy-based substitutes are often consumed due to the much cheaper price compared to native crops and meats. All folk on New Hai Phong enjoy a variety of wellmade desserts, including xoi la dua, a dish of sticky rice topped with Nha O Ngot La leaves, and che troi nuoc, sweet rice dumplings filled with beans. Blockfams often have a “noichu nuong”, a team of chefs and cooks individually called ”chudau”, who dedicate their time solely to making food for their blockmates.
Drinks are also a key part of Hai Phongese cuisine, stemming from poorer citizens needing more flavor in their soy product and supplement-based diet. Teas in particular are common due to New Hai Phong’s often forgotten tea leaf farms. White, green, matcha, and honeybush tea are all popular among those stressed out by New Hai Phongese life due to their soft, sweet, soothing flavors. For those who do a lot of physical or manual labor, black tea and pu-erh tea are popular because of their hearty, strengthening flavors. Both native and imported herbs and flowers are usually added for additional flavor, whether to make the taste sweeter or stronger.
One popular food on New Hai Phong is “dua zi mon”, literally “chopstick food” when translated, which is prepared by wrapping small balls of cooked meat, cooked fish, or raw fish in hoa dough before baking. Once finished, dua zi mon is ready to eat. It is a popular game among friends to see who can get the most duazi mon from the serving platter onto their plate unsurprisingly using one of the most common utensils through human space--chopsticks.
Thanks to heavy funding from Hephaestus Industries, many colleges and universities offer incredible experience for those working in manufacturing and atmospherics. One such college is the Atmospheric Learning Institute of Kho Nang, or ALIKN, which is the main institute in Cua Song’s University District. ALIKN’s students are often jokingly called “aliens” as a fudging of the acronym’s spelling in Terran English. Many atmospheric technicians, engine technicians, and toxin researchers come out of ALIKN, which also holds a small but steady group of airborne virologists. ALIKN is also notable in that is one of the few universities that offer classes to learn Terran languages, specifically Terran English, Terran Mandarin, and Terran Spanish.
Unsurprisingly, many graduates from the university are snatched up by Hephaestus who offers scholarship-to-employment programs to the gifted. Other corporations such as NanoTrasen and Einstein Engines also snipe graduates for their relevant departments. One notable graduate is Elisa Tung, inventor of the Shok-Free Protected Atmospherics System integrated into most high-end combat exosuits.
Ethnicity on New Hai Phong
The average Hai Phongese look is:
Skin Tone: 80 - 130
Average Height: 157 cm - 178 cm / 5'2" - 5'10”
Black to dark brown hair.
Dark brown eyes.
Those raised on New Hai Phong have a noticeably slimmer frame and build than those raised in other environments.
Similar to all Sol Alliance planets, New Hai Phong has a SolGov representative, currently Lien Siu Nguyen, who handles much of the communication between New Hai Phong and the Sol Alliance. New Hai Phong is technically a democracy, though the populace are almost entirely apathetic to politics and voting.
New Hai Phong was originally colonized by the Sol Alliance as a civilian outpost for mining operations on the neighboring ice-crusted planet Chu Nho. Mining operations continue on Chu Nho, but only on a small scale. Because of an immense corporate expansion operation, Hephaestus Industries set up a great deal of New Hai Phong’s infrastructure. The corporation continued taking contracts for structures and now owns massive swathes of the planet, both legally and through shadier means.
Today, it's estimated that roughly one in three Hephaestus Industries products underwent final assembly on New Hai Phong, and around four in five products has at least one constituent part assembled on the planet. The corporate presence of Hephaestus is impossible to miss in New Hai Phong and, due to fears of losing control of the planet, has created friction with Sol Alliance officials numerous times.
Potential Character Concepts
Characters from New Hai Phong are likely to:
- Have worked with Hephaestus Industries or used their products in the past.
- Value friendship, camaraderie, and family very highly.
- Have asthma or other lung sensitivities.
- Speak Sol Common.
Here is an example character from New Hai Phong:
- Chau Tran Nguyen, 28, is an engineer currently employed for the NSS Aurora. She is friendly and excitable, but is a bit brash.
- Nguyen is about 5’3” and has a small build and a slim physique, likely 100 lbs. She has relaxed posture and her movements are loose and expressive. Nguyen has dark brown eyes and straight black hair kept in a tight bun. She has a heavy silver chain sewn down to the collar of her jumpsuit.
- Nguyen joined Hephaestus Industries at a young age and eventually became a contractor for the NSS Aurora. She currently lives aboard the NTCC Odin with her girlfriend and boyfriend. Nguyen follows some folk beliefs. She thinks that corporations should have less power, though Nguyen keeps this to herself.
- Nguyen finds aliens strange due to having encountered few in person before moving to Tau Ceti. She is fully supportive of IPC citizenship, though.
- Nguyen fluently speaks New Hai Phong Common and Tau Ceti Basic.
Here is a second example character from New Hai Phong:
- Huan Seng Tran, 19, is a cook hired by NanoTrasen. He is laid back and quiet with a strong, silent passion for cooking.
- Tran is about 5’6” and has a thin frame with a slight paunch and some muscle, probably 145 lbs. He has loose posture, but his movements are surprisingly elegant and smooth. Tran has dark brown eyes and short, curly blonde hair that is naturally dark brown. He often wears his customized breath mask decorated with stickers of various pop groups.
- Tran took a passion in the culinary arts and moved to Tau Ceti to study. He currently lives in a dormitory in Mendell City with a roommate. Tran is agnostic. He is deeply invested in Bieselian politics, finding the current treatment of non-humans repulsive and the power of corporations disturbing.
- Tran has a love for non-humans to a near fetishized degree, though he keeps it quiet.
- Tran speaks New Hai Phong Common and has a basic understanding of Tau Ceti Basic and Tradeband.
Here is a third example character from New Hai Phong:
- Linh Xuan Cheung, 24, is a security officer working aboard the NSS Aurora. She is brutal and efficient, but is also very sarcastic and mischievous.
- Cheung is about 5’7” and has a lean, athletic build and is about 125 lbs. She has excellent posture and her movements are trained and quick. She has dark brown eyes and straight, dark brown hair kept in a neat bob. Cheung wears a black silk scarf tied around her forehead.
- Cheung moved to Tau Ceti to live with her sister. She currently lives in a flat with her sister, brother-in-law, and boyfriend in Mendell City. Cheung is Christian. She finds politics a waste of her time.
- Cheung is fine with non-humans, but has a soft spot for pretty Shells.
- Cheung speaks New Hai Phong Common, Tau Ceti Basic, Terran Mandarin, and is currently studying Terran English.