FRIDAY FEATURE #17
In today’s Friday Feature, you will find extensive information about life in Haven – culture, habits, conflicts and the daily motions that people go through. This is obviously useful, not only for how your characters look at life in Thermopylae compared to life in Haven but also for the video calls back home, for relationships back in the colony and to get a better idea of the culture of this little slice of humanity post-Nightfall.
After the part about Life in Haven, you will also be able to read about how long people have been in Thermopylae and the difference between the old-timers and the newcomers.
LIFE IN HAVEN
The Starving Years ended nine years ago. That was the mark of the founding of Haven, the refuge of humanity – or what the survivors knew of humanity at that point. But, Haven today is not just a place to hide in or a concept. It is home to slightly above four thousand individuals, it is a birthplace of new cultural ideas and a melting pot of old ones. It is built on a careful balance of resources and priorities, where small mistakes could have large repercussions.
The Running of Haven
Haven is structured like two pyramids, one of them is led by the military group called High Command and one of them is the Citizen’s Council. Nowadays, they have a smooth and stable cooperation but it wasn’t always so. As always, division of power always causes tension and some have those darker days fresh in mind. Still, for the last seven years, the Colony has been ruled in peace.
High Command is responsible for all guns and weapons in Haven, who has access to them and who are trained to use them. They control the perimeters of Haven, the four entrances where goods are brought in or where expeditions go out. They are also responsible for training and maintaining a force consisting of 4 percent of the population (roughly 160 individuals), who are on rotating military shifts alongside other work that they’re also required to do. High Command also holds a lot of unofficial power over the policies within Haven, but no formal authority.
The Citizen’s Council is the ruling body of Haven’s inner life. There are ten of them, and they are elected on a yearly basis from all recognized citizens. You only become a recognized citizen after you have worked and contributed towards Haven’s survival for a full year. Slackers or leeches are not welcome in this harsh environment. They also have “Branch Leaders”, people responsible for a certain type of work and who take lead on the hiearchies performing said work, as well as four “whistles”, individuals chosen to overlook the military affairs and be a bridge between the two groups. The closest thing to a police that exists is the Colony Security, who are not part of the military structure but rather report to the Citizen’s Council. They only carry light arms but are meant as a form of lighter control and a balancing act towards the military, and were formed after the conflicts.
Some of the branches are:
Residence Branch – Tracks all habitable and secure areas and keeps lists of who lives where, as well as divides newly expanded areas to new citizens, and developing housing.
Sustenance Branch – The biggest of the branches, covering both foraging and production of food. This includes hydroponics, mushroom farming, traps and expeditions to the surface.
Recycling Branch – Handles recycling (primarily organic material for fertilization) and trash, as well as collecting and distribution of useful materials between areas of the colony.
Production Branch – Responsible for the workshops and ‘industries’ that have been established, their production and the needs of the colony.
Sewage Branch – Handles the sewage systems, sanitation and water cleaning.
Security Branch – Handles the Colony Security and their assignments.
Maintenance Branch – Handles repairs and constant improvements to the basic living conditions of Haven.
Energy Branch – Handle the geothermal sinks, generators and cabling, keeps track of how much power different areas are using and makes sure the production is kept safe.
Medical Branch – Handles, the best of their ability, the medical needs of Haven.
Communication Branch – Handles the computers and wires of Haven, connecting different parts and trying to repair the digital or technical communication equipment that comes into their hands.
Military Branch – The formal organization for the whistles. A small but symbolically important part of the structure.
There are a few minor ones, but these are some of the most important and defining branches of Haven. Every work-capable citizen is part of one of these.
As a citizen of Haven, you have to work a certain number of hours every month. Some jobs are half-hours (they count only half an hour per spent hour) while some are double hours. This is a way of regulating how hard people have to work, or a form of payment in the absence of an economic system.
Once you have contributed the right amount of hours and reported them to your branch, you are free for that month and can go on doing what you want. Many people keep on working on community projects even after work hours are over, since the job of maintaining Haven and making sure it resembles some place worth living in, is ever ongoing.
The Different Havens
The oldest parts of Haven have become quite cozy with the years. They’re based around a massive central subway station where rooms, old shops and galleries have become the homes of the people who’ve lived there the longest, and its decorated with sun-resembling lamps, lots of recovered fabrics in all sorts of colors along with plenty of furniture and other things taken from the shops that once existed there.
The further out you get, the more basic and bunker-like it becomes. The newest citizens live in homeless-like conditions without proper heating, waiting for the Maintenance Branch to catch up on their ever-growing list of things that need doing.
Cultural differences have also appeared between the newcomers and oldtimers of Haven, where those who have lived there a long time often claim to have invented or discovered a unique culture for Haven – especially those who came during the first two years. They have tried blending their musical styles and their trends into a single mix, rather than try to keep them separate.
When larger groups of survivors found their way to Haven at later times, they didn’t quite assimilate into this unique ‘Havenesqe’ or ‘Original’ culture. Around one third of today’s population belongs to that original two-year group, while maybe 50% of the population came around 5-7 years ago. After that, there weren’t many more survivors who had managed to make a living out there.
That group, the 5-7 year old group, have created their own culture, the ‘Tunnel’ or ‘Tunneler’ culture, taken from the fact that they survived Nightfall and the following years out in tunnels rather than in Haven or in organized settlements. They consider themselves harsher, rougher around the edges and not as comfortable as the people in inner Haven. They’ve also stuck to their own, old cultures more than the people who came first.
When the Outposts were founded, the Citizen’s Council decided to leave the authority of those missions entirely in the hand of the Military branch. It was impossible to have an efficient, democratic rule when they were so isolated from the Council itself and communications were sporadic. They needed to be efficient. When volunteers were gathered for the missions, it was made clear that they would be put under military authority. In some cases, this was not a popular choice, and Haven did not manage to get enough volunteers in the first run. Some people had to be chosen from their respective work branches and were given over to the Outpost groups, which caused quite a lot of disgruntled voices.
Still, the community spirit and the realization that expansion was needed came first, and people united in the Outpost missions. That does not mean, however, that there aren’t concerns that these Outposts might become bastions of military strength that won’t be relinquished so easily. Some worry that High Command might even use them as bargaining chips towards the Council, but no such official concerns have been voiced from the council.
When the citizens of Haven are not working on their shifts or helping out with community projects, they are busy finding love, making friends and trying to find happiness like humans have done for ages. Some hold onto things from the past that means something to them while others find new things that they use to decorate their homes with or to create new meaning around.
But, nothing is simple in Haven. Property, especially, is a point of contention. Before you can keep something as your own, you have to do a check-up on it. Check it for contamination if it wasn’t catalogued before, list where you got it, then have it checked against lists of needed things for other parts of Haven. The different branches constantly turn in lists of things they need to keep running, and these are distributed to the different Recycling centers so they can pick them up from where they’re based.
If the local recycling center doesn’t need it, then the thing is yours and is registered as your property. If it has no practical application at all, it is only listed as ‘private item’ and archived after testing, but anything that *might* be needed at some point, somewhere, needs to be listed in specifics.
These lists are primarily digital, and are kept in the central records of Haven – records that the outposts can access as well, to a degree. However, many also keep a physical list on them, because you never know when the system might break down – and these lists have become an important item to people in itself.
Note: When people go to Thermopylae, they make a new list for the things they bring – so make sure to have one with you, in physical form if you want to. Digitally, you will be able to enter such a list on your character profile once they are released, and we can grab them from there for the in-game data systems.
Romance is another interesting chapter in a community kept small, enclosed and with limited resources. Nearly everyone has an ex in their work shift, another one living in the area next to them and a current partner on the other side of town. Tension has forged many bonds, but broken even more. When trauma is experienced together, it tends to create temporary chains that only last until things calm down and the daily trials begin.
Some have even made joking illustrations of massive webs of people, all connected through love triangles, quadrangles and more.
And while love is rather free and unrestricted by number, gender, identity or ethnicity in Haven, just as equality has a firm hold in general, there is one part of it that is kept closely under guard. Children.
Right now, the right to bear children is severely restricted and right now, prohibited. So far, it hasn’t been a big issue for people, but some say that the attempt at establishing the Outposts is also an attempt at securing enough resources to procreate as a collective.
Only time will tell if Thermopylae can ensure a safe future for humanity’s children.
TIME IN THERMOPYLAE
To be stationed in Thermopylae is to accept being gone from Haven and its comforts for six months. However, not everyone can be changed at the same time, so it was decided that citizens would be rotated out at different times – some of the first only staying two months, others four and finally, some the full six.
That means that at the larp, these groups will all be represented, along with a fourth group who stayed behind when the first six-monthers were rotated out. There are not many of them, but they were kept around in order to ensure a stable transition of leadership and to provide the experience kept by those who first established the Outpost.
How long you have been there will be included in your character. At the larp, it will be distributed like this, among player characters:
80 individuals are recently rotated in and have only just gotten to know their work. They’re new to Thermopylae, but have had enough time to settle in, create some relations and to claim their bunk space. They arrived six days ago.
100 individuals have been in the Outpost for slightly over 2 months. They’ve just gotten real comfortable and have learned to treat it like a second home, but they aren’t veterans and they weren’t there during the truly primitive early days.
100 individuals have been in the Outpost for slightly over 4 months. They are now becoming the veterans and the ones who were there during the tough times, the build up of Thermopylae, of the first thorough scrubbing down and the scavenging of initial resources.
20 individuals are being kept from the last 100 of the people who settled in Thermopylae, six months ago. They were among those who found the holes in the ground, the bunker doors and the way in. They cleaned out some of the worst mold, they found the hidden nooks and the old stores of clothes and gear.