An outer ring colony of the Solarian Alliance, Visegrad was first colonized by the Warsaw Pact during the early Interstellar Era and used as a dumping ground for the Pact’s politically least-desirable, before evolving into a noteworthy world in its own right. Since then it has been wracked by two civil wars: first in the face of the Interstellar War, and then in the wake of the Solarian Collapse of 2462. Today, the rainy world exists as the base of Fleet Admiral Klaudia Szalai’s power, serving as the capital of the Southern Solarian Reconstruction Mandate.
Due to Visegrad's history as a former penal colony housing Eastern European political dissidents and its current status as the de facto capital of a warlord state hostile to outsiders, characters born on Visegrad will have names and appearances consistent with the peoples of Non-Soviet Eastern Europe, East Germany, and the Non-Yugoslav & non-Greek Balkans. Only native Visegradis may take the Visegradi accent. This is enforceable by server moderators and admins.
Geography & Climate
Visegrad is a sullen and tempestuous world of ultra-dense temperate rainforests, frigid bogs, and swamps so thick with murk and mire so as to render a crossing by land impractical. Located on the cooler side of the goldilocks zone in the Danube star system, Visegrad’s defining trait in the eyes of the average observer is the profound moisture of it all. Perpetual and torrential storms rack the surface of the world, which feed the enormous forests and the vast equatorial ocean spanning the surface of the planet. Much of the precipitation can ultimately be traced back to Visegrad’s prominent and exceptionally dense planetary ring— consisting mostly of ice, the debris here often crashes to the planet’s surface and is promptly introduced into the water cycle.
Most settlements are located in the northern hemisphere— the temperate and boreal rainforests there are far more suitable to human habitation than the south’s vast bogs, swamps, and ice caps. The blackwood forests here stand taller than any on Earth, providing ample coverage and soil anchorage for buildings and other structures. The planetary capital, Fellegvar, is located in one of these forests. Other notable settlements include Nowa Bratislava, a coastal city in the far north, and Sloboda, the planet’s largest commune, which was built on the remains of a long-term survey outpost.
Aside from Visegrad itself, the Danube system is relatively unremarkable - the star itself is a yellow dwarf, and two other unnoteworthy, barren planets orbit it, along with a moderately-sized gas giant. Though all three have been exploited in the past, these efforts were unprofitable and most attention has been paid to Visegrad itself. Along with its ice belt, Visegrad also possesses a modestly-sized moon called Morana, which is host to a number of research and development outposts, formerly owned by Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals which now sit abandoned, being mothballed after the Solarian Collapse and not yet put back into regular use.
Flora & Fauna
Life native to Visegrad all shares a common nature in their adaptations: they are prepared for the rain. The flora on Visegrad takes advantage of the constant rainfall, growing as quickly as it can. Trees here anchor themselves with resilient networks of roots, growing tall and strong. The overgrowth on Visegrad is stifling, and the soil is rich. Wildfires are common in spite of the rain as lightning strikes are frequent.
Especially notable flora are the blackwood trees, which are similar to the sitka spruce of Earth but with wood the color of rich ebony. Visegrad is famous for blackwood trinkets which are supposedly carved by hand— or as the more honest vendors would say, by sophisticated machines. A notable accoutrement to the trees themselves is raindrop moss, a plant which strongly resembles spanish moss from Earth in both form and biology. This moss is moisture-rich, and is frequently pressed to yield (grassy-tasting) drinking water.
Carpet moss, on the other hand, blankets the ground alongside the planet’s many fern species. Thick and plush, it exists in a semi-aquatic state, weathering flooding until the water recedes. Before the advent of prefabricated homesteads, early treehouses frequently used carpet moss for sod roofing as its sponge-like qualities helped prevent leaks.
To describe the bulk of Visegradi fauna would be to describe a great number of mammalian or otherwise endothermic creatures with thick waterproof coats of fur or feathers and either an arboreal or semi-aquatic lifestyle. However, amphibians are also common as well.
No creature registers in the curious minds of the public as the Skriatoks: a species of arboreal bipeds, remarkably intelligent and standing at around four feet tall. Hunched, covered in slick black fur, and possessing a pair of bulbous eyes and jutting horns, they are seldom seen in the civilized portions of the world. Some suggest that they are a pre-sophont species as tool use, outpacing even the most sophisticated of non-human apes, has been alleged by some xenobiologists.
Also infamous is the Szazlabu, a creature that defies typical taxonomic classification. Possessing dozens of gripping tendrils, this three-meter long beast is wholly arboreal and glides from tree to tree using its many limbs to grab branches. While terrifying to many by virtue of appearance, startling speed, and the large groups it congregates in, the Szazlabu is a harmless, intelligent, and even affectionate herbivore that has even been domesticated for transportation in remote areas.
Marine life is not so dissimilar to life on Earth, with the same niches seen there being fulfilled in a similar capacity. One of the sole exceptions is the Turul, an apex predator that spends much of its time in the air, yet dives into the ocean when hunting, capable of holding its breath for hours at a time in the search of prey. While capable of killing a human, the creatures typically do not target them; most attacks seem to be a case of mistaken identity, usually when the victim’s silhouette is altered or obscured enough to resemble a fish.
One freshwater amphibian often loved by children is the Przewoznik, a portly disk of a creature that is just as clumsy in the water as it is out of it. Its distinctive screeches are heard all throughout the day and night and can occasionally be loud enough to disrupt the sleep of those who live close to courting pairs.
Visegrad's history is a long and storied one filled with momentous events that span centuries, from its founding as a penal colony for political dissidents from the Warsaw Pact to its current status as the de facto capital of the Southern Solarian Military District. The planet's history is generally accepted as defined by certain phases which are listed below.
At the start of the interstellar era, the USSR along with the Warsaw Pact would emerge as one of the foremost human colonial powers. Wielding a huge chunk of the Earth’s population, economic power, and industrial capacity, the Soviets and their satellites would spread throughout the stars, settling world after world both in the Sol system and beyond. However, unlike on many of these worlds, not all of Visegrad’s colonists were volunteers. The foundation of the planet was a means to an end: a group of Warsaw Pact states consisting of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany designed Visegrad as a dumping ground for political dissidents. Visegrad, with a name invoking notions of socialist unity and brotherhood, would become a drop-off point for much of the Pact’s unruly artists, subversive elements, religious figures, opposition intelligentsia and politicians, union leaders and members, and anyone else who could prove to be a problem to the state.
Initially chosen because it was assessed as a relatively marginal planet, Visegrad was the world for the black sheep of the Warsaw Pact— where people could be sent to be out of public sight and mind. Development of the colony was no easy process, though. The weather complicated colonial development, but the worst of it was the foliage. Excavators, controlled explosions, and herbicides were all put to use in the creation of Fellegvar, the cramped and highly vertical initial colonial site. Besides those technical complications, the colonists themselves would present a number of issues ranging from general discontent to underground subterfuge. Not only were they being forced to live on the planet, but it would also prove to be a harsh home, and the capital itself was even harsher. Fellegvar resembled its namesake: a fortress with bleak and functionalist design, and one more designed to keep its population in rather than keep others out.
Many people diffused into the countryside, seeking refuge from the oppressive situation in the cities. The simple fact of geography meant that there could be no suburban sprawl. Colonists either stuck to the cities or embraced a rural way of life, creating settlements referred to somewhat inaccurately as “communes” and individual structures referred to as “homesteads.” Generally, anyone living outside of an urban center was referred to as a Homesteader, and those who stuck to them were the Stadters.
As the colony grew, so did the problem of keeping people in line. Unrest began to become unmanageable as many of the worst troublemakers began to migrate into the countryside. With most of the population being politically unreliable to begin with, it became clear that a centralized, domestic policing apparatus would be necessary. As a result, the Visegradi People’s Security Service would emerge as the solution to the Warsaw Pact’s governing woes. While fulfilling the niche of a typical colonial defense force, it also doubled as a highly militarized police force, wielding an expansive surveillance network that reached all walks of life. Furthermore, the office of Colonial Premier would emerge, serving as both commander of the Security Service and the governor of the planet.
As time passed and natives began to outnumber imported dissidents— and the Security Service waged its campaign of dissident suppression— the situation on Visegrad gradually normalized. While rabble-rousers and recusants would continue to be sent to the rainy world, it became less like the Siberia of the stars and gradually shifted to a state of being more typical of a colony of the Warsaw Pact. Below the surface, however, aggressive police actions and authoritarian scheming worked to crush dissent, yet paradoxically and simultaneously contributed to it as many grew to resent the tyranny that the administration presented.
The Interstellar War
The fragile facade of peace and unity crumbled when the Second Great Depression struck the Pact and the greater Alliance. Almost immediately, the Warsaw Pact’s hold on Visegrad began to dissolve. With prosperity down the drain, those who fought against the colonial government were emboldened by a sudden wave of support. Mass protests and strikes seriously challenged the government’s hold on power. Eventually a leak of Security Service information exposed the extent of their actions, and public order began to fall apart and eventually collapse with the assassination of Colonial Premier Andrzej Nowak. When a bomb in his office killed him along with some of his ranking staff, elements of the security forces were charged with responsibility— many anti-government groups simultaneously claiming the bombing as their own. Nowak’s legacy would prove to be one of civil strife as his successor, Jarmila Szwedko, engaged in a merciless purge of suspected opponents. This exacerbated the issue of questionable loyalty: in response, an attempted coup to stop Jarmila’s rule by officers of the Security Service turned into civil war.
There were three predominant factions in this conflict: the Loyalists, Regionalists, and Secessionists. The Loyalists were those who remained aligned with the Warsaw Pact. Despite enjoying some initial successes, the Loyalists collapsed after a few years— with support from both the Pact and the populace drying up. The Regionalists wished to remain within the Alliance, but did not support continued Pact control. The most radical faction were the Secessionists, who desired unilateral secession from the Alliance and realignment towards the fledgling Coalition. Support for each faction was heterogeneous, with allegiance varying greatly between city, commune, homestead and individual. In the end, the Regionalists received support from a key outside party: Sol.
With the Secessionists taking the side of the Coalition during their guerrilla war against Solarian rule, the Alliance backed the Regionalists, sending them strategic and material aid. Reorganized and wielding the Visegradi National Defense Force, forged from elements of the Security Service, the Regionalists continued their war against the Secessionists. After a grueling insurgency which saw countless deaths, the Regionalists eventually gained total control of the planet. With the Warsaw Pact out of the picture, and the Secessionists defeated, democracy— albeit illiberal, in the typical Solarian style— finally came to the rainy world.
The Solarian Collapse of 2462
Being a Solarian outer colony, the Solarian Collapse struck Visegrad with full force. For the most part it largely avoided the military’s phoron seizures, as there existed only small stores of the resource on the planet. Instead, the real trouble began with the death of Frost and the tragedy on Mars. The Secessionist cause, suppressed since the end of the Interstellar War, flared up once more. Protesters took to the streets all throughout Visegrad, demanding unilateral secession from the Alliance and a realignment towards the Coalition. The government found itself hard-pressed to control the unrest, which grew even worse after the military garrison abandoned the world and began a sudden retreat to the Sol system.
The world’s colonial assembly was led by a Sol First Party minority government which collapsed nearly immediately, a motion of no confidence leading to its dissolution. With a defunct assembly, the head of the National Defense Force, Commandant Mariusz Kovacs, declared the government adjourned in perpetuity and that a state of martial law would be in place until a Solarian relief force would arrive, of which there was no guarantee would ever happen.
This was a measure that proved deeply unpopular with the anti-government populace and other pro-secession groups, and the protests turned to riots and riots to firefights. NDF troopers and police engaged in combat with Secessionist militias, echoing the state of affairs during the Interstellar War. Monorails were bombed or captured, major and minor starports seized or sabotaged. A general state of anarchy ruled on Visegrad, much like on many abandoned Solarian worlds, and no unified planetary government existed by the time the conflict in Tau Ceti ended. Secessionist militias controlled Sloboda and vast swathes of the rural countryside, while an uncertain peace existed in the rest of the world, ruled by the colony’s defense force. While the NDF’s fleet was still operational and capable of fighting off rogue military vessels and pirate fleets, Kovacs and his clique knew they stood no chance against an invasion by one of the wildlands’ warlords. On Visegrad, the few months of interregnum were a bloody and uncertain time, and nobody knew what the fate of the world would be.
The First Middle Ring Battlefleet
Being one of the better-trained and equipped battlegroups in the Alliance Navy, and most certainly the best in the region, the First Middle Ring Battlefleet (FMRB) under Fleet Admiral Klaudia Szalai was in the middle of peacekeeping duties when the order to retreat to the Sol system was given to many of the Alliance’s remaining forces. Thinly spread out and one of the few effective units in a region normally patrolled by the Navy’s worst, the battlefleet was in no position to retreat in good order, phoron shortages aside. When the collapse came, the chaos would’ve destroyed a lesser unit— but the high level of cohesion and comparative quality of the soldiers under Klaudia’s command allowed for a sluggish but successful rendezvous.
By the time Szalai’s forces had reconstituted, however, Sol’s withdrawal was all but finished and the wildlands had become a place without any clear governmental authority. The Fleet Admiral was given a difficult choice: attempt to make her way back to the Sol system through now-hostile territory and with a severe lack of fuel, or attempt to restore order and find safe harbor in the southern wildlands. The choice for Klaudia was obvious; a committed Solarian loyalist, she strived to preserve the Alliance however she could. As for the safe harbor, the choice was equally apparent to the Fleet Admiral. Kovacs, in the end, was right, and a Solarian relief force would eventually make its way to Visegrad.
When the FMRB’s detachment to Visegrad arrived, the NDF’s beleaguered government welcomed them with open arms. Most Secessionist militias were unprepared for the all-out assault that came with the District’s arrival, and many surrendered outright in the face of the overwhelming force suddenly sent their way. Some well-equipped, fanatical, or isolated hardliners that went underground persisted in their efforts, but for the most part the Secessionist insurgency was abruptly extinguished. Almost immediately, Visegrad would serve to be one of the springboards of Szalai’s stabilization of the Southern Solarian Military District.
Being Visegradi herself, it might be possible to level an accusation of bias against Szalai for her pick in a base of operations, but Visegrad was a fair choice. The established shipbuilding industry and starports would allow for maintenance of the battlefleet’s vessels, and the populace stood a chance of being easily pacified by one of their own. Perhaps the most significant factor in the strategic decision to occupy Visegrad was the nature of the aforementioned shipbuilding industry: Visegradi shipyards specialized in vessels that would be exported to the frontier, and therefore typically used warp drives instead of bluespace drives. With phoron supplies already nearly depleted, the option to refit the FMRB’s ships with obsolete-but-effective warp drives was key to Szalai’s long-term strategy, and likely equally important to other competing warlords in the region.
The Southern Solarian Military District
From 2462 to 2465 Visegrad served as the bona fide seat of command for the SSMD’s leadership apparatus, and a base of operations for the military forces of the military district. Every day, ships flew in and out of the planet’s orbital facilities, receiving repairs and supplies—and what phoron that can be gathered from trade or storage, for ships that haven’t already been refitted. Meanwhile, Szalai’s anti-corporate agenda saw Zeng-Hu’s previously profitable and expansive operations on the planet completely shut down. Additionally, many Visegradi secessionists were m indefinitely detained for their rebellion. A substantial portion of the SSMD’s replacement troops are Visegradi recruits, as the people of the rainy planet recently put out of work are forced to find an alternative livelihood. Even the Visegradi National Defense Force was disbanded as a distinct entity, quickly being incorporated into the FMRB’s structure following its arrival. Conflicts with Biesel and the Southern Fleet Administration put a crosshair over the rainy planet: as the lynchpin world of Szalai’s regime, defeat here would have been a harsh blow to her forces and the Alliance’s influence in the Southern Reaches. Finally, hardliner secessionist cells continued to operate, trying — and failing — to derail the path to Solarian reintegration.
The SSMD’s rule over the planet lasted until July 2465, when the rainy world was reintegrated into the Alliance through the creation of the Southern Solarian Reconstruction Mandate (SSRM).
The Southern Solarian Reconstruction Mandate
Since July 2465 Visegrad has officially rejoined the broader Solarian Alliance following the formal end of the Solarian Civil War, and now serves as the capital world of the Southern Solarian Reconstruction Mandate. As it reenters the Alliance most Visegradis are full of hope for the future, though many problems remain unresolved and must be addressed: the gradual withdrawal of the Navy from ruling, the trialing and releasing of secessionist actors, the fate of corporate facilities, and the potential re-establishment of the National Defense Force as the civilian government prepares to begin leadership of the planet.
Furthermore, Szalai must work to rebuild much of the Southern Reaches while protecting the SSRM from pirate raids originating in the nearby Wasteland and balancing the political influence of other actors in the region, such as Fleet Admiral Myo Yunso and Sankt Frederick Governor Adrien MacPherson. But the majority of Visegradis are confident their Fleet Admiral will see them through this, and towards a better future.
A longstanding sense of enmity exists between the people of Visegrad and Pluto, owing largely to the ideological differences between the two planets’ populations, and also for the Warsaw Pact’s tendency to use Plutonians as additional manpower in the Security Service due to the ever-present shortcomings in drumming up local support end enlistees.
Visegradi people see the Plutonians as emblematic of the institutions that deported their ancestors to Visegrad in the first place, and as jackbooted thugs who oppressed the population of the rainy planet. Plutonians, on the other hand, view the Visegradi people as reactionaries and hereditary criminals, a belief only steeled by the fact that the Plutonian guards and government employees unlucky enough to be left behind during the Pact’s withdraw found themselves sent to Visegradi prisons at worse, or unceremoniously exiled to the nearest inhabited planet at best.
Society, Culture, and People
Visegradi society is notably characterized by geography. The urban population lives in cramped high-rise apartment buildings and typically travel by suspended monorail. They form the bulk of the educated specialists in the workforce and have a lifestyle more typical to heavily developed worlds. Homesteaders, on the other hand, are the group that constitutes the rural population. While many communes exist on the periphery of more developed urban centers, those further away from the cities live a rugged lifestyle not too dissimilar from the less-developed worlds of the Solarian outer ring or human frontier. Suburban sprawl is completely non-existent due to the complications of the biosphere, hence the relatively clear line of demarcation. Another notable aspect of Visegradi life is the somewhat high concentration of higher education facilities relative to the planet’s fame— Visegrad is well-known for having a fair number of universities, esteemed for their focus on xenobotany, xenobiology, and other life sciences.
In terms of ethnic makeup, the overwhelming majority of the population are ethnic Visegradi, being people who are the descendents of the original colonists and outcasts from the Warsaw Pact. There are almost no aliens on Visegrad with the immigration process for any non-human being as difficult as it was anywhere else in the Alliance. Almost always, any alien found on Visegrad would be a Skrell, typically one affiliated with the academic community. This has become even more noticeable as Visegrad’s separation from Sol between 2462 and 65 stopped nearly all immigration of any species to the planet, human or not. It did not stop emigration, and with the SSMD’s borders being essentially open with Sol, some have taken the opportunity to flee to safer Alliance space for the time being. Secessionists who would find themselves unwelcome in Sol have a more difficult journey with refugees resorting to braving the Wasteland m and then attempting passage through or around Elyran space to get to the Coalition. Some secessionists have opted to remain in the Wasteland, believing its anarchy represents true freedom. Regardless of where one goes, Biesel is a logical next step for some looking to start a new life.
Expressions, Attitudes, and Superstitions
One common aspect of Visegradi conversation and culture is the mention of geography, weather, and flora to describe a subject. A common statement would be something akin to, “it’s a rainy day.” In a figurative sense, this means it’s a normal, boring day. Other examples might be to say that “a storm is coming,” if someone feels uneasy, or that “The clouds are clearing up,” if someone’s mood is improving. Additionally, this extends to more physical things too, such as describing being outside, as “under the clouds,” even if no clouds are actually present, or going on a walk often being called “going rainspotting.” In general, Visegradi people are frequently described as being a rather gloomy, suspicious sort with a generally pessimistic outlook. Decades of oppression by an authoritarian government has also instilled an intrinsic distrust of authority and government in some communities and people. This extends to new people as well as many supposed “friends” worked as informants for the Security Service during the Pact era. Also notable is a general predisposition towards superstition: Visegradi culture places a substantial emphasis on luck and fatalism, and there are a number of perhaps unusual traditions that relate to this. There is additionally an emphasis on hard work, recreation, and living; it is not uncommon for natives to turn their noses up at softer lifestyles and those who live them. Backpacking and hunting, in particular, are pastimes strongly cemented in Visegradi culture.
Some notable superstitions among Visegradi people are an apprehension or even offense to having one’s photograph taken without one’s knowledge, it being considered a bad omen due to the historical trend of the old Security Service photographing people without their knowing. Similarly, due to the history of Security Service members wearing face masks, masked people or those who otherwise obscure their faces are seen as particularly suspicious in the culture, to the point where many from Visegrad will outright avoid people who wear facemasks for purposes outside of necessity and profession, such as doctors or those who work around harmful particulates. Even then though, explanations are usually warranted. Lastly, a notable superstition among some Visegradi people is to never leave doors or windows open, believing that it may let bad luck, or more practically, rain, inside.
A more sinister superstition revolves around the idea of the “Leszy”, or forest spirits, which are said to take the form of large green Skriatoks - with leaves, branches, and other plants growing from their bodies. Leszy can be benevolent or malevolent, and are considered to be somewhat unpredictable; they have been credited with guiding people through the thickest of storms back to civilization, while simultaneously blamed for the disappearances of lost travelers. One common method of warding off or gaining the favor of Leszy is to tattoo oneself with a depiction of a Visegradi animal, or likewise to carry a wooden carving of a Visegradi creature on your person, which is said to appease the Leszy and serve as a sort of guardian charm. Leszy have been historically used as a euphemism for the security service’s forced disappearances during the Pact era - and the word continues to be used as a tongue-in-cheek way of referring to malicious or bumbling governments.
Visegradi Creole is the dialect of Tradeband native to Visegrad. As a result of the unique origins of the planet's colonists, Sol Common never had an opportunity to cement itself on the rainy world. Instead, communication with outside traders led to an eclectic, harsh, and relatively unique version of Tradeband to take hold as the local lingua franca, a position that it has held to the present day. Sol Common in spite of this still sees heavy use in schools and in the government as an official language mandated by the Solarian Alliance before its collapse. While the Warsaw Pact experimented with Tradeband as a language to unify the linguistically-diverse population, a different variant took hold in the planet’s population, one heavily influenced by the many languages of the founding population. Visegradi Creole was originally intended to act as an argot language, one designed to be incomprehensible to the planet’s Warsaw Pact guards - at one point, a whole unit of the Security Service was dedicated to deciphering and understanding the ever-changing creole language. After the end of Pact rule, Visegradi Creole was rehabilitated and standardized, being made the planet’s official language alongside Sol Common.
Music on the rainy world is somewhat notable, with folk and polka being popular styles, almost always being sung in Visegradi Creole.
Visegradi cuisine is famous for the heavy use of paprika in many recipes. Adapted versions of paprikash, goulash, and marhaporkolt are famous in some culinary circles and any visitor to the rainy world is bound to enjoy the food, at the very least. One uniquely Visegradi dish is Stormbreak Eggs. A form of street food popular amongst Stadters, they are fried in paprika-infused cooking oil alongside kielbasa and served on lye bread toasted in that same oil. Also famous are the Visegradi Coffee Houses, which were copied from Viennese tradition by some Hungarian colonists. These rustic and comfortable cafes are a defining aspect of the rainy planet’s social life. Notable menu options include items such as einspanner coffee and pine needle tea. Additionally, Visegradi agriculture is somewhat unique in that it revolves around the cultivation of fungi, most often different kinds of mushrooms endemic to the rainy world.
Borovicka is by far the most popular liquor on the planet, owing both to Visegrad’s pine tree-analogues and the Slovak origins of some of the original settlers. The gin-like beverage is so popular that it is said to be something that any alcohol-inclined traveller should enjoy, with it often being exported to other Solarian colonies or even further abroad. Spritzers (called froccs, in the local dialect) are also popular if one is in search of a more mild drink.
Drug usage rates on Visegrad are similar to other Solarian worlds, but uniquely the most popular illicit drugs on the planet are native psychoactive fungus. Visegrad has been referred to as “the psilocybin capital of the spur” by some self-proclaimed drug “experts”, though such a moniker may be seen with embarrassment or disdain by a native Visegradi. Another recreational drug that has a uniquely Visegradi system of use is tobacco - actual cigarettes one would smoke are essentially extinct on the planet, as the endless drizzle and moisture makes using them nearly impossible outdoors. Instead, chewing tobacco, nicotine gum, specially-designed smoking pipes, and electronic cigarettes are all far more popular.
Clothing & Dress
Clothing on Visegrad is quite utilitarian with the most popular garments being warm, waterproof, and, if a Homesteader is the one wearing it, rugged. Woolen flannel is a popular material, in spite of the headaches that come with grazing sheep in an ultra-dense forest. Also popular is any sort of water-resistant synthetic fiber. One particularly universal article of clothing is the lavvu ponczo, or simply ponczo. Originally popularized by the shelter-halves of the original colonization effort, the ponczo has evolved into a common tool for everyday wear— many people wouldn’t be caught dead leaving their home without one. A similarly ubiquitous piece of headwear is the Nyakas. A derivative of the flap hat, it is designed to keep rain off of the neck and head. While not strictly clothing, arborescent cologne is very popular on Visegrad.
Architecture on Visegrad is a notable attraction, or at least a feature of the planet's cities. The style is unique, a sort of fusion between socialist realism and stripped classicism. Known as "Visegradi Contemporary", architects and critics are divided on the look— some praise it as a striking and dignified style that pairs well with the planet's stormy weather, while detractors pan it as a reminder of the oppressive past and a sign of reluctance to go forward. In terms of the design of settlements themselves, cities are compact and highly vertical, with narrow streets home to only bicyclists, police patrol carts, and pedestrians. Instead, monorails are used as the primary method of transportation. With flooding and the rain being such an issue, most highly trafficked surfaces are protected by a complex network of retractable awnings and gutters that safely divert much of the water away from populated areas. Additionally, most structures and even cities themselves exist on raised platforms, to minimize contact with the ground and prevent flooding. Homesteads and communes on the other hand are organized around the kabina, a prefabricated treehouse structure assembled in parts and placed on stilts, wrapped around the trunk of a sturdy tree for support and for protection from ground-level flooding and the elements.
Originally a one-party socialist state subservient to the Warsaw Pact on Earth, Visegrad’s government changed after it broke away from the Pact’s rule. Prior to the Solarian Civil War and the FMRB’s takeover of the planet, the political structure of Visegrad was the same as it was on many other Solarian planets: an illiberal representative democracy. Unique, though, was the Electoral Service system, the method of voter registration on Visegrad.
Electoral Service was a concept inherited from the Warsaw Pact days - it is essentially a program that makes a public servant of the prospective voter for a period of eighteen months. Unlike conscription, though, there are a number of fields that the inductees can partake in. The most common choice is service in the National Defense Force, or since the planet’s induction into the SSMD, the armed forces of the military district. The other options for Electoral Service are the Medical Service, a public healthcare organization; the Development Bureau, which deals with public labor; the Agricultural Bureau, where inductees typically work as farmhands; and the Civil Commission, which recruits miscellaneous governmental workers like secretaries and pages.
During the Solarian Civil War democracy fell to the wayside in the wake of the SSMD establishing control on Visegrad. From 2462-65 a military junta ruled Visegrad under a state of martial law, much like in the rest of the Military District. Described as being a temporary measure until Solarian control can be re-established in the Southern Wildlands, the junta has declared they will step down when the region is more stable — whenever this may be. Electoral Service has notably been maintained by Szalai’s regime, though the goal has largely shifted to boosting the SSMD’s manpower in lieu of its original purpose. While electoral politics are irrelevant for the time being, Solarian Populism has strongly established itself as the dominant ideology among pro-government Visegradi people, while secessionists subscribe to a broad range of libertarian ideologies.
Defense & Law Enforcement
Like many Solarian worlds, Visegrad had a System Defense Force. Created from the remnants of the Visegradi People’s Security Service, the Visegradi National Defense Force maintained much of its original power due to its influence among the Regionalists - it was still responsible for all policing on the planet, with militarized officers patrolling the streets and forests. This resulted in a degree of discomfort with some sympathetic to the Secessionist cause, who felt it too strongly echoed the repressive past of the planet. Many outspoken Secessionists even claimed that the surveillance network of old was never dismantled, and instead was kept in place to serve both the NDF and Alliance Strategic Intelligence. The Defense Force also fielded a number of patrol ships, some even rating destroyer classification, though the objective for this force was primarily protecting commerce in-system.
In spite of remaining loyal to the Alliance after the collapse, the NDF was disbanded when Szalai’s fleet took control of Visegrad; the admiral had no interest in taking the risk of allowing a parallel military organization to exist alongside her own. Those who seemed faithful to her goals were incorporated into her forces, and those assessed as being unreliable or outright seditious were dismissed at best, and detained with the Secessionists at worst. Ever since then, marines and sailors of the SSMD have taken over all policing and law enforcement on the planet and in-system. The state of martial law and intermittent curfews are considered a necessity by the authorities and those who support them, but those who reject District control consider it an intolerable transgression against their civil liberties. Regardless, their strength and level of control over the planet makes resistance difficult at the very least.
Now, with the SSMD having been superseded by the SSRM, some have begun to discuss reforming the NDF and releasing its personnel from the Navy. Szalai’s government has, for the time being, begun talks with former NDF personnel — some in the Navy, some retired, and some having returned from fighting in San Colette — regarding its reformation.
A socialist economic system had dominated the world throughout much of its history, though it liberalized to a substantial degree after the end of Pact control on the planet. The Visegradi economy is diverse, with every economic sector represented depending primarily on location. Communes often exist to extract resources, and the cities will process and market them. Lumber is a major resource on the rainy world and is the colony’s most significant export in terms of pure tonnage. Notably, there also exists an established shipbuilding industry on the planet, inherited from a Pact-then-Zavodskoi shipyard designed to serve as a hub for the middle and outer colonies. This fact along with its relatively central position in southern Solarian space made it into something of a center of commerce before recent events, though largely as a waystation to richer Solarian space and Biesel.
The megacorporation who had the greatest level of investment on the planet for many years was Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals, owing to the fact that substances potentially medically-applicable are found in great supply on a planet so rich in biological resources. Zeng-Hu employed a statistically significant proportion of the population in some way or the other and the rainy world was considered something of an economic stronghold for the megacorporation. Generally, reception of the corporation was mixed - many welcomed the economic prosperity they brought, while others decried the environmental damage that they caused. Of special note to Zeng-Hu was a species of rare arboreal fungi with potentially mind-altering qualities, and the corporation paid top credit in exchange for viable samples.
Following the establishment of Szalai’s control over the world, much of the SCC’s property on the planet was seized. Many high-ranking employees found themselves on official watch or outright arrested, and the SCC’s influence on Visegrad has been diminished near-completely. Zeng-Hu in particular was very hard-hit, on account of their previous hold over the planet. It was seen as a key strategic decision to remove the corporation, in spite of its relatively acceptable working relationship with Sol. As a result of this, a lucrative smuggling industry arose, with former employees wanted by the District paying countless Credits to be trafficked into Biesel space; a difficult trip, on account of patrols that stop any ships attempting to cross the border. Furthermore, the healthcare industry has been completely reorganized, with naval doctors being used to fill the gap left by the ejection of ZH medical professionals. Following the Solarian reunification rumors have circulated regarding Zeng-Hu’s return to Visegrad, but no concrete information has emerged.
Some corporate assets, however, have survived the reorganization intact, albeit weakened. Due to their good working relationship with Sol, Idris in particular has seen relatively little in the way of losses, with substantial monetary and logistical aid being given to the military administration in order to continue operating on Visegrad to some degree. Idris has even tentatively been permitted to continue hiring new employees, some of whom were blacklisted from other fields due to prior involvement with other SCC corporations on the planet. Zavodskoi Industries, who had been operating on the planet for centuries on account of their origin in the USSR, has also survived, though on a very tight leash. In exchange for allowing them to keep some of their factories on the planet, they are required to provide armaments and ammunition to the SSMD’s forces at a rate far below market value. It is also through these two corporations that many people leave Visegrad for friendlier waters, either to the Alliance itself, or through Alliance space to get to Biesel. Personnel from both corporations can request transfers to other facilities controlled by the SCC, and many end up using this fact as an out.
A newcomer to Visegrad is Einstein Engines, which has been allowed to take over the previously Zavodskoi-owned shipyards at no cost. In exchange, they assist with the refitting of warp drives onto the District’s military vessels. Due to Einstein’s extremely warm relations with Sol, the same enmity that the surviving SCC corporations on the planet suffer from does not extend to them. As such, EE is able to operate somewhat freely, with the administration allowing them to expand their operations as they see fit. Many of the planets’ citizens who aren’t getting involved with the military or Idris find themselves seeking employment with Einstein, as a result. Of those who previously worked on the shipyards and other heavy industries which weren’t promptly poached by Einstein, many have found employment off-world with Hephaestus, who welcome their skillset. As a result, Visegradi employees are becoming somewhat more common in Hephaestus employ throughout the spur.
Cities & Settlements
Visegrad's geography is home to numerous cities and rural homesteader communes which vary in size, scope, and local culture as well. Among the many, those listed below are the planet's most notable.
The oldest city on Visegrad, Fellegvar is both the capital city of the planet and the most populous settlement. It was established in a sheltered valley where the planet’s meteorological quirks are lessened, allowing for the continuous operation of the city’s large and economically vital spaceport. In many respects, it also has the strongest visible resemblance to a Warsaw Pact city, especially in the walled and fortified city center - which is home to a Pact monument, Konev Tower, which has since been rehabilitated as Freiheit Tower, following the planet’s independence.
Fellegvar’s Pact-era fortifications, status as host of the headquarters of the National Defense Force, and place at the heart of Visegrad led to its status as the Southern Solarian Military District’s command center, both on-world and off of it. Through the Solarian Civil War District personnel were seen all throughout the city, busying themselves in service of Admiral Szalai’s government. Now things are much the same, but the SSMD iconography has been replaced by Solarian Alliance banners and flags. Some citizens appreciate the increased security and business the Navy brings, while others find themselves wondering when, and even if, this state of affairs will go back to the old normal.
Nowa Bratislava is Visegrad’s sole coastal city, and to understand why, one must merely look at the vast network of drainage canals and immense seawalls put in place to keep it from being swallowed up by the ocean. Established during an era where marine transportation was being considered as an alternative to monorail-based commerce and transit, Nowa Bratislava is also one of the planet’s northernmost settlements, and can experience snowfall instead of rain for a fair part of the year.
Though seafaring ended up being a dead end solution to Visegrad’s logistical problems, Nowa Bratislava nonetheless found new life as home to many of the planet’s well-respected universities. One such example is the Nowa Bratislava Xenosciences Research Institute, the planet’s most esteemed university, and generally considered to be one of the finest universities to be found in the Alliance outside of the Jewel Worlds. Additionally, it was in Nowa Bratislava that former Fleet Admiral F.R. Beauchamp was found guilty of his myriad list of crimes and executed by firing squad, on the steps of the city’s top court.
Although small, Zbior is the wealthiest city on the planet, located in the shadow of the rainy world’s tallest mountain range. The city’s main claim to fame is that it is the only settlement on the world where the perpetual drizzle and rainstorms cease more than a few times a year. Such a state of affairs is a natural attraction for those less precipitation-inclined - if they can afford to live there - but more importantly it allows for the mass agriculture of crops that are not as storm-tolerant. Immense greenhouses line Zbior’s broad and occasionally uncovered pathways, full of plants that might otherwise need to be imported from off-world.
Zbior is also home to Idris Incorporated’s fledgling foothold on Visegrad, having taken over the corporate facilities that were once property of Zeng-Hu, the city’s previous patron and benefactor. Zeng-Hu Pharmaceuticals was in fact responsible for much of the city’s success, having designed and funded the establishment of countless planting and growing facilities for their own gain. Zbiorians are generally held in contempt by much of the rest of the Visegradi population, both for their affluence and for a reputation of corporate snobbery.
Sloboda, the planet’s largest homesteader commune, comes closest to depicting what a true city would look like if done in the homesteader-fashion. Kabinas are stacked upon each other, forming huge complexes that are all interlinked by a complex system of semi-permanent walkways. Linked to Fellegvar by the planet’s monorail system, Sloboda is nonetheless confusing to navigate and frequently changes, with kabinas constantly being dismantled, assembled, or moved.
Sloboda has a reputation for being a strongly pro-secession locality, and it was one of the first settlements on the planet to come under control of secessionist rebels after the Solarian collapse. The insurgents here refused to surrender after the arrival of Admiral Szalai’s forces, and instead a protracted battle for control of the commune took place, with countless homes damaged or destroyed in the process before an eventual victory for pro-Solarian forces.