New Tortuga


System: Columbia

Sector: Rimward Expansion Zone (a.k.a. The Free Colonies)


New Tortuga, as the name blatantly indicates, is the pirate haven of known space. It is located just off the main trade routes between the Terran Protectorate and the Xintrin Merchant Guild, and gets a lot of legitimate traffic from the Xintrin Merchant Guild and the Empire of Many Suns. It is the home port for a large number of pirates and mercenary groups, as well as smugglers, underworld elements of all kind, and legitimate independent merchants. New Tortuga and Bifrost sit at opposite ends of the trade route between the Terran Protectorate and the Xintrin Merchant Guild. Bifrost is closest to the Protectorate, and New Tortuga is closest to the XMG. There is about 16 light years between them.

New Tortuga calls itself a free port, meaning that there are little to no restrictions on who comes and goes, or what they bring with them. This has generated a LOT of revenue for New Tortuga, even as it has made surrounding space very dangerous. Ships are not checked for weapons permits or licenses, and cargo generally goes uninspected. This drives the Guardsman Interstellar Security Service nuts. New Tortuga is a charter world to the trade pact which created the GISS, so the GISS patrols its space, but they’re pretty much legally impotent except in the most blatant acts of piracy or violence. They aren’t allowed to inspect ships they know are illegal, or even are pretty sure are pirates. They must catch any known criminals out of the gravity well, but by that point the ships have usually gone faster-than-light and are impossible to catch or track.

New Tortuga makes its money off rent. It rents out ship yards, repair docks, landing pads, living complexes, space stations, landing fees, restocking and resupply fees, and even rents out an entire moon to the Xintrin Merchant Guild. In return, its tariffs and custom fees are laughable, and rarely enforced. No one, especially Bifrost, thought this model would work, because when New Tortuga began this policy, there was about one-hundredth of the amount of space traffic than there is now, and almost all of that was human. Now, New Tortuga boasts that 10,000 ships per day are logged landing and taking off from the planet, and it is the second-busiest human star port in the galaxy, surpassing even Terra Prime. Only the Terran Protectorate core world of York surpasses New Tortuga in space traffic, and that’s because it’s the largest manufacturer of spacecraft in human control.

New Tortuga is a quiet political power. It flexes its muscles overtly very rarely, preferring to use “unaligned” mercenaries and pirates to do its dirty work and intimidate its enemies. Cross New Tortuga, and pretty soon you’re losing ship after ship to piracy that cannot be directly linked to the planet’s government. That is not to say that it doesn’t have a strong military on its own. Its fleet is third in power in the Free Colonies (Bifrost and the GISS are relatively tied for first and second, depending on who you ask). But, as Bifrost found out recently during the short Bifrost-New Tortuga War, New Tortuga can rally a massive amount of mercenaries and pirates who have a vested interest in keeping New Tortuga as a free port.

There is no controlling clan on New Tortuga, and the elected president’s position is a figurehead post. The true rulers of New Tortuga are unknown, and suspected to be a council of powerful merchant and banking interests who are at odds with the large corporations. The starship manufacturer Kugler-Vaughn is the only corporation that has ties to New Tortuga, as the other companies are tired of predations on their shipping by pirates that call the nefarious port home.

New Tortuga is a wild and wooly place, especially the city of Port Royal, the planet’s largest space port. While there is law, its job is mostly to keep conflicts from spreading and causing widespread destruction, it’s not very good at preventing crime or actually tracking down criminals, unless they’re disrupting trade or scaring off merchants. There are a few large drinking and trading venues that are highly frequented by spacers, and there are large planet-side docks that allow for modifications to ships as large as a frigate.

New Tortuga has one of the most diverse populations in known space. Approximately 25% of the population is non-human, with half of that being Xintrin. New Tortuga also has significant populations (more than 1 or 2%) of Mogg’Theran, Sigmari, and Arnuban.

New Tortuga is terraformed to have an earth-like atmosphere, but has a very sparse biosphere, almost entirely limited to its scattered oceans and inland seas. Most life forms on New Tortuga are no larger than a good-sized game fish or, on land, a house cat.

There are some ruins on New Tortuga that are alien in origin, but they were picked clean of any useful items hundreds of years ago.


Population: 250 million permanent citizens, and 200 million transients (living on-world for less than half a year)

Controlling Clan: None, large populations of Proletarans, Davinchians, Yoarashi and members of the Ares-Draconis Brotherhood make up the bulk of the population, but none can claim control.

Diameter: 10,020 miles, significantly larger than earth.

Atmosphere: Terraformed from near earth to earth-like, thanks to Xintrin and Nix technology.

Average Temperature Range: 20°F – 75°F (-7°C – 24°C)

Gravity: 1 G

Calendar: New Tortuga has a 29-hour day and has a 298-day year.

Satellites: New Tortuga has two moons: Barbarossa and Gladsheim. Both are rocky and cratered, similar to Earth’s moon. Barbarossa is leased by the XMG in its entirety, and is restricted to approved traffic only. Gladsheim is off limits to all space traffic except the New Tortuga military. No one knows why, but there are several rumors (there always are on New Tortuga) about some sort of alien artifacts or archaeological site on the moon. There are many small space stations, but no sky cities and nothing significantly large besides a trio of mobile space docks (large enough for cruisers).

Defense Assets: New Tortuga has a large number of Ranger Defense Corvettes and Holstein pinnaces, modified Siena Ray Armored Transports, and a half-dozen MK-7 Escort Carriers. The defense fleet is led by three Pulsar Multipurpose Cargo Cruisers that have been modified into pocket battleships. The planet also has a satellite defense network and a large number of ground and space-based fighter platforms utilizing wings of “Jack Jumper” Civil Defense Fighters. The Xintrin also have a small task force of war galleons and other vessels assigned to their facilities on Barbarossa.