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.
Due to the ethnic make-up of its original settlers and ability for the massive New Hai Phongese population to absorb immigrants into its culture via assimilation, characters born on New Hai Phong must have names and appearances consistent with the peoples of Southeast Asia. Only characters native to New Hai Phong may take the New Hai Phongese accent. This is enforceable by server moderators and admins.
What would become New Hai Phong had quite humble origins. Originally detected in the late 2100s, New Hai Phong was colonized in the early 2200s by a coalition of Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos with intentions of it being not much more than a base of operations for mining facilities on the nearby ice-covered planet of Chu Nho. But as the mining operations continued industry — primarily that of Hephaestus Industries, then dwelling in the shadow of Einstein Engines — followed, and the inhabitable regions of the planet began to rapidly increase in population and importance over the 2200s.
As New Hai Phong’s industry expanded, so too did Hephaestus’ hold over the planet. As the mines of Chu Nho began to dry up in the early 2300s the planet became more and more reliant upon Hephaestus and the industry it brought: without the sprawling, smoke-belching factories of Hephaestus and the crowded habitation blocs that housed its tens of thousands of employees, New Hai Phong would simply be another Middle Ring mining colony destined for a slow decline into irrelevance. To avoid this fate more and more liberties were given to Hephaestus: regulations on building were lifted, palms were greased to look the other way, and the culture of corruption that now defines much of life on New Hai Phong formed as a result. By the 2400s, Hephaestus’ hold over the planet was all but assured. It is estimated that roughly one in three Hephaestus Industries products undergo final assembly on New Hai Phong, and around four in five products have at least one constituent part assembled on the planet. The presence of Hephaestus is impossible to miss.
But not all are willing to live alongside Hephaestus and the culture of corruption that it has created. Throughout the 2400s there have been various anti-corporate movements on New Hai Phong, but the pervasive corporate influence and corruption of the planet has seen them repeatedly stamped out or bought out. The one movement that has survived is the New Hai Phongese Socialism of Senator Le Hanh Trang and her party, the Solarian Socialist Unity Party. But with their inability to dislodge Hephaestus from the planet using the Solarian Corporate Authority, it remains to be seen who the New Hai Phong of the future will belong to.
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 8.53 billion based on the 2460 Census. This population is almost entirely focused in the three megapolises and their megalopolitan areas 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 megalopolitan zones.
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.
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. Many atmospheric technicians, engine technicians, and toxin researchers come out of ALIKN, which also holds a small but steady group of airborne virologists.
Unsurprisingly, many graduates from the university are snatched up by Hephaestus who offers scholarship-to-employment programs to the gifted. Other corporations such as 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.
Government and Politics
Local politics on New Hai Phong — generally that below the senatorial level — is not defined by political ideology or economic class due to the endemic corruption of the planet. Instead, it is defined by local communities known as blockfams that have banded together in order to influence local politics. Blockfams are entirely willing to barter and engage in local corruption themselves in order to get what they and their community members want or need, and are not idealistic communities. Blockfams have been known to compete against each other or collude with one another as their needs change, but hardly anything is constant in the relationships between blockfams, the local authorities, or other blockfams. Oftentimes negotiations between blockfams are not done with currency, but by bartering power, favours, and resources between themselves so that there is no credit trail should the planetary authorities, who themselves are corrupt by many measures, decide that any given blockfam’s operations are inconvenient. Corruption is a fact of life on the planet, and blockfams are simply a way for the average resident of New Hai Phong to get what they need from a corrupt system.
Local governance across the planet beneath the city-scale varies greatly. In one part of a city one could find a corporate-dominated community where Hephaestus owns everything including the police and emergency services, while in another a neighborhood sleepy apartment buildings which pay bribes to the local authorities to look the other way on the illegal gambling dens in the basements, while somewhere else still, the occasional city district or blockfam which operates untainted by corruption, or at least mostly untainted. Despite this presence however, many in the government and authorities do fight a nearly impossible battle against corruption through their actions as individuals or as part of the institutions they represent, but challenges are great. The omnipresent interest of Hephaestus industries dominates life on New Hai Phong, the money from the illicit gambling rooms run by the Zau Gwai Jyu is alluring, and already present expectations of corruption do not make fighting the problems easy. Anti-corruption proceedings themselves often are used merely as instruments for one corrupt politician to dispose of a political rival in a “legitimate” manner, rather than hiring a hit. Despite these challenges though, many on the planet dream of a New Hai Phong with a more just way of life. Some galvanize politically with Senator Trang’s movement, while others who have lost faith in any and all politics simply work to fight corruption in their own lives in the small ways where they can.
New Hai Phong’s government is generally regarded to be substandard by the broader Alliance due to rampant corruption that is present at every level of civil government. The planet has a singular senator, Le Hanh Trang, in the Alliance Senate. Locally, the government of New Hai Phong on the planet itself is divided between its three cities and the powerful governors that rule over them. Due to their ten year terms and the immense corruption of the megacities themselves, these governors essentially serve for life and almost always come from local political dynasties that have the money to buy their way into the governorship. As lifelong rulers of the planet’s megacities, the three governors of New Hai Phong wield immense power over the planet. Thanks to this its planetary governor must often defer to the city governors’ demands, and thus the demands of Hephaestus Industries by extension.
The current Governor of Cua Song is Quách Diễm Nguyen, a 53 year old woman from the Quách family known for her deep connections to both Hephaestus Industries and Idris Incorporated. Nguyen’s two terms as governor have seen Cua Song’s more affluent neighborhoods along the coast prosper through tourism that is often connected to Idris Incorporated. More inland neighborhoods further from the Sanh Song Sea have seen little of this prosperity, with Nguyen having ignored much of southern Cua Song in favor of the touristy north. Southern Cua Song is a hotbed of New Hai Phongese Socialism, though its residents remain unable to dislodge the governor.
The Governor of Nhom Hy Vong is Lý Quốc Thành, a 72 year old man from the Lý family. The Lý family is deeply entwined with Hephaestus Industries, which is at its strongest in the massive factories of Nhom Hy Vong. Thành, in his three terms as governor, has done much to further the interests of his corporate sponsors and much less for the typical New Haiphonger in his megacity. The advent of the SCA in 2463 was a temporary cause for immense panic by Thành and his family, and the Lýs are rumored to have nearly fled the governor’s mansion in the night for Biesel. This rumor, and his constant favoring of Hephaestus, have won Thành few friends, and the younger residents of Nhom Hy Vong have turned many of its districts into strongholds of New Hai Phongese Socialism.
The Governor of Ton Gwai Pei, the 52 year old Noung Darany, is unlike his two counterparts: he makes no efforts to hide his corruption, and actively promotes it as a positive aspect of his governorship. Anybody can do almost anything in Ton Gwai, as long as they have enough money to pay the governor for it. As a result, Ton Gwai is divided between dozens of small “fiefdoms,” supervised by people that have paid Darany for the right to control the area. Entire districts can be governed by criminal syndicates, local notables, or megacorporations (generally Hephaestus, if industrial, or Idris, if intended for tourism). This system has made Darany one of the wealthiest men on New Hai Phong, and he has resisted all attempts to remove him due to this wealth and the support of his fellow city governors. Despite his personal success New Hai Phongese Socialism has continued to build among the ordinary residents of Tom Gwai, which suffer all of the issues and gain none of the profit of Darany’s system of graft.
Compared to the city governors the planet’s legitimate Solarian governor, Tô Trường Chinh, is nearly powerless and almost completely defanged. A Frost-era appointee, Chinh was given his position in 2462 and told that he would have all the support he needed in order to fight widespread corruption on New Hai Phong. But shortly after his appointment the phoron crisis began, and the Alliance rapidly had much bigger problems to deal with. Chinh found himself unsupported and at the mercy of his “subordinate” governors, and his situation only further deteriorated following the death of Frost and the Solarian Collapse of 2463. Now, with the SCA having given up on New Hai Phong and the three governors as powerful as ever, Chinh seems to be a defeated man, content to simply wait out the remainder of his appointment and retire to a comfortable apartment in the Core Worlds after it is over.
New Hai Phongese Socialism
One word defines the government of New Hai Phong at every level: corruption. Bribes, often originating in Hephaestus Industries, have become a part of daily life for the planet’s citizens, many of which have long regarded local corruption as simply a fact of life in the Alliance’s industrial capital. Anti-corruption efforts are often stymied and die out before they pass even the lowest levels of the planet’s governing body, and many believe that Hephaestus Industries is similarly behind this. Yet despite the General apathy of the planet towards its corruption, there is an exception: Le Hanh Trang’s New Hai Phongese Socialists.
Long viewed as a crusader against corruption, Le Hanh Trang and her party, the Solarian Socialist Unity Party, have their roots — and power base — firmly in the widespread dissatisfaction felt by many younger Haiphongers with the corruption of their government in recent years. Trang and the SSUP first rode this wave to win New Hai Phong’s only Alliance Senate seat, and have long attempted to break the stranglehold of Hephaestus over the planet through legislative means. Yet despite her best efforts, Trang was unable to break the planet and Hephaestus apart even during the height of the anti-megacorporate Solarian Corporate Authority. The once-public Trang has slunk into the political shadows following her defeat, and rumors have begun to swirl that she and her party are merely proxies of Einstein Engines that intend to sell New Hai Phong to it after wresting it from Hephaestus. The survival of Trang as a viable candidate for the position of Prime Minister is anything but certain, but her movement — with its emphasis on fighting for the common Solarian worker against megacorporations— will assuredly outlast her.
Ethnicity on New Hai Phong
The average Hai Phongese look is:
Skin Tone: 125-160 warm
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.