Following on from my overview of what 2300AD’s Arms could look like on a realistic starmap, let’s take a closer look at my reinterpretation of the French Arm (as well as Pentapod and Kafer space) by starting off with a general overview (and some 3D maps!):
This 3D map shows what the revised “New French Arm” looks like in the realistic starmap. It is divided into an initial ‘trunk’ and two branches that separate at the red dwarf DX Cancri (the Beta Canum branch is on the right, and the Arcturus branch is on the left in the image). This reveals major differences between the canonical French Arm and the new version.
The first difference is that Wolf 359 now cannot be reached by a direct stutterwarp link since it is just over 7.7 ly from Sol – instead, the Arm must take a circuitous loop that includes Kapteyn’s Star, Luyten’s Star, and Sirius.
The second major difference is that while the two branches are present to an extent in the canonical map, the greater number of systems in the Arms means that they effectively split apart closer to Sol, making it harder to reach one branch from the other – this would have a significant effect on the Kafer Invasion of human space, as described later.
This 3D map shows the ‘extensions’ to the French Arm. The colonised French Arm is the solid blue line on the left – the dotted blue lines are various paths that the French (or any other nation on the French Arm) could take to explore new systems accessible from the main Arm. All of these systems are within 7.7 ly of their neighbours and are are all accessible using standard stutterwarp drives, so there is considerable room for expansion.
At this stage, these systems would be known but only those closest to the French Arm would have been surveyed, and none have been properly colonised. It should be noted that these Extensions are unique to the French Arm – the Chinese and American Arms have their own Extensions.
This 3D map focuses on the frontier region of the French Arm, and shows “Alien Space” – the Kafer Sphere in red, and the Pentapod Finger in pink. The Kafer Sphere intersects human space at Alpha Bootis (Arcturus), with the Kafer homeworld at Gamma Serpentis located three systems away from Arcturus.
While the Kafers possess a number of systems near human space extending up to HR 5634, the systems on the other side of the dotted line between Lambda and Psi Serpentis represents another potential zone of expansion – however, since the dotted line is a 9.1 ly gap there needs to be an uncharted brown dwarf that bridges the gap to allow this expansion to occur. I have not included one here since I don’t want to include any fictional data in the maps, but it’s not unreasonable to think that there may be a brown dwarf that we don’t know of in that region. It should be noted that the Kafers are unaware of stutterwarp tug technology and so would not use that to bridge any gaps.
The Pentapod Finger has been shifted to the Arcturus Branch in this new map, which puts it closer to the Kafer Sphere. While it could have remained on the Beta Canum Branch, it would have been too far from the action for the Pentapods to interact with the Kafers in the events that would lead to the creation of the “Pentapod Revenge” that effectively ended the Kafer War. The Pentapod Homeworld (Lifewater) is now at HIP 69526 and unauthorised human traffic along the finger towards it is prohibited beyond Gliese 528. The pink dotted lines represent potential Pentapod expansion routes.
While the 3D maps are nice to look at, they are a little hard to interpret! Fortunately, the nature of the Arms is such that they can be represented using a much simpler “subway map” that shows all of the systems in and around the French Arm much more clearly. This map was made using the very handy subway map generator at http://beno.org.uk/metromapcreator/ – it has a few quirks (such as not saving the maps properly – some screen capturing and assembly in Photoshop was required!) but it works pretty well once you get used to it.
The subway map shows the Arms and branches much more clearly. I’ve tried to arrange it so that the lines vaguely agree with reality, though in doing so it looks a little un-intuitive – I had to put Sol at the bottom right (with the Arm extending to the left from it) in order to get the Beta Canum Branch on the same side of the map as the Arcturus Branch.
I’ve also had to move some of the named systems around to get the history working with the new map, and also had to incorporate the systems that were at fictional stars or stars that turned out too distant to be usable. I tried to fit the systems to similar stars, but there may be some differences (that probably matter less in the grand scheme of things than their placement on the arms).
So. What do we have now? We’ll actually start from the top of the arm and work down towards Sol.
The Kafer Sphere: On the left of the map is the somewhat inaccurately named “Kafer Sphere”. It’s actually rather linear and can be divided into two parts – the Gamma Serpentis branch and the Psi Serpentis Cluster. The main Gamma Serpentis Branch is the one that impinges on human space, and starts at Lambda Serpentis through the Kafer Homeworld at Gamma Serpentis to Arcturus (where it touches the French Arm) and then up through several systems to end at HR 5634 (an F5 V star). If we’re being strict about only using the stars on the starmap and not including uncharted brown dwarfs to fill the gaps, this would be the entirety of the “Kafer Sphere”. However, this causes a problem – there’s nowhere to put the Ylii homeworld and systems, which have to be on the other side of Gamma Serpentis from the French Arm. The only way around this is to posit an uncharted brown dwarf to bridge the 9.1 ly gap between Lambda Serpentis and Psi Serpentis (shown as the dotted pink line on the map).
This grants access to the Psi Serpentis Cluster, into which we could place the Ylii homeworld (probably at the K0 V star HIP 74702), and any ‘backdoors’ from Human Space into the Kafer Sphere. On the Kafer side, Arcturus is not the only system through which Kafers can access Human Space – there are other ‘backdoors’ from Kafer systems that use stars not shown (but within 7.7 ly of eachother). The Kafers can circumvent the French Arm by travelling from LHS 2919, Gliese 567, and HIP 75187 to Gliese 519 (Dunkelheim), Gliese 518 (a white dwarf) and Gliese 514 (Kimanjano), but those are the only places from which they can sneak past.
Arcturus Branch: The Arcturus Branch contains the Beta Comae and Pentapod Fingers, as well as many of the major worlds of the French Arm. It is also where the vast majority of the action of the Kafer War takes place, since it contains the only direct connection to the Kafer Sphere. Assuming 2320AD is canon, the First Kafer Invasion of 2301 wreaks considerable damage to the worlds of the Beta Comae Finger (Nous Voila at Beta Comae Berenices, Hochbaden at DG Canum Venaticorum, and Dunkelheim at Gliese 519) and the other worlds on the Arcturus Branch until they are stopped at Wolf 498 (the new location of Beowulf, formerly located at Queen Alice’s Star). The Second Kafer Invasion of 2305-2310 would progress even further, bypassing Beowulf (there are stars that can circumvent the Wolf 498 system that are not shown on the Arms subway map) before the Kafer fleets are broken at Neubayern, now at the strategically placed red dwarf of DX Cancri that is also shared with the Latin Finger (which will be described in a later post).
Pentapod Space was located past Beta Canum on the original 2300AD map, but that would place it too far from Kafer Space for them to be affected by the war – fortunately on the realistic map there is a group of stars available off the Beta Comae Finger that can be used as their territory (shown in pink on the subway map). The Pentapod Homeworld (Lifewater) is now located at HIP 69526, and all the systems beyond Gliese 528 are off-limits to unauthorised human traffic. Gliese 528 itself is the ‘interface world’ between the humans and Pentapods, where both species maintain outposts. A few Kafer scouts probably attempted to cross into Pentapod Space during the war, but were never heard from again. The attack on Star Gazer that ultimately leads to “the Pentapod Revenge” would take place while it was being transported from the Pentapod homeworld deeper into human space (possibly still to Beta Canum, if Star Gazer felt like touring more of the French Arm along the way), most likely at ULAS J1335+1130 or WD 1334+039 (Gliese 518).
Beta Canum Branch: The “main French Arm” is often considered to extend from Sol to Beta Canum Venaticorum, with the Arcturus Branch splitting from it at DX Cancri. The first important system from Sol is Serurier, which is now at WISE J1049-5319, a brown dwarf system shared with the Chinese Arm. Next is Gliese 1061 (now Heidelsheimat, also shared with the Chinese Arm) and then Nyotekundu, formerly at Wolf 359 but now located at Kapteyn’s Star. This is an older system than Wolf 359, and actually fits the description in the Nyotekundu Sourcebook much better. Sirius is next along the arm, and although it won’t contain any habitable planets it would still be of considerable scientific interest. Bessieres has been moved from Lalande 21185 to Luyten’s Star.
Beyond Neubayern (DX Cancri) is the Beta Canum Branch, which contains the major worlds of Kie-Yuma at Xi Ursae Majoris, Sans Souci at Gliese 450, Crater at Gliese 451, Joi at 61 Ursae Majoris, and Beta Canum Venaticorum itself (these worlds orbit the same stars as they did in 2300AD canon). These systems would now be largely untouched by the Kafer War since there is no direct access to them from Kafer Space, and the main Kafer fleet doesn’t get past Neubayern (some scouts may get through, but they probably wouldn’t be able to do a lot of damage).
The Extended French Arm: There are now 35 more systems available for expansion from the French Arm (shown in light blue on the subway map). Only the systems closest to the main French Arm would have been surveyed at this time, leaving the rest as a huge frontier to explore. The Extension consists of a loop that goes from the white dwarf at Gliese 518 around to Augereau at Ross 128. Branching off from the loop are two fingers, one of which extends to Alpha Corvi (F1 V), and the other to Alpha Mensae (G7 V).
As noted, several worlds were moved to different stars to make the history of the invasion work out. Hochbaden was originally at Gliese 528, but that would put it in Pentapod Space now – it is now located at the red dwarf DG Canum Venaticorum, between Dunkelheim and Beta Comae Berenices. Adlerhorst (formely at fictional Vogelheim) is now located at Xi Bootis, Kimanjano is now at Gliese 514, and Beowulf is at Wolf 498 (which can now also be referred to as Queen Alice’s Star if desired). The Klaxun homeworld remains at Gliese 505, and is accessible from the (new) brown dwarf at ULAS J1335+1130. Augereau (previously at Gliese 412) is now at Ross 128, and is one of the gateways to the new frontiers of the Extended French Arm. Neubayern is now at DX Cancri, at the base of the Arcturus Branch. Nyotekundu and Bessieres moved from Wolf 359 and Lalande 21185 respectively. Placing them like this will keep the systems in the right order going out from Sol, while still keeping the history as intact as possible.
Coming up next – the American Arm!
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