Marians, Clade Mary

Widespread haloist civilization/clade.

Image from Anders Sandberg
The dark, cold halo object Mary, original home of the Marians

A Typical Haloist Clade

One of the most widespread Middletech Haloist societies is Clade (or Phyle) Mary. They are named after an outer Kuiper Object in Sol System where they originally developed during the dark ages, but Marians are quite common throughout much of the Inner Sphere, and being not as secretive as some Haloist clades are better known to sociologists and anthropologists. Marian society is rigid, closed and bureaucratic. It is nearly a caste system, where everybody is educated for a single duty. Everybody is sterilised; children are born and educated in a central nursery facility deep in the core. Most people belong to the various life-support branches like Biomass Management (BM: agriculture, sanitation), Matter Management (MM: water, air, mining), Energy Management (EM: energy production and distribution) and Technology Management (TM: repairs, building and maintenance of the habitat). Above them in hierarchy are Information Management (IM: communications, media), Human Management (HM: nursing, education, medicine, economics, and social security), Security Management (SM: the police, surveillance) and finally Project Management (PM: administration, planning and oversight). On the Planning Committee representatives for the 8 branches sit, formally with similar status but in practice ranked.

Society on Marian habitats is dominated by matters of scarce resources. Withholding resources is treason, and selfishness the worst sin except for endangering the habitat. At the same time, HM realizes that humans are humans, and need things like privacy, personal space, creativity and individuality (even these tendencies can be ameliorated by conditioning) in order not to crack up. Their solution has been to encourage resource-economical activities such as sex, lucid dreaming, meditation and computer games. Especially the games have grown tremendously, from simple network games producing cheap excitement into elaborate collaborative fantasy worlds. Stories and conflicts within the games are matters that fill everyday discussions, and IM is building more gameworlds all the time. Beside the official rankings, many people are known for their rankings in various games. Everyday reality is often regarded as the boring but necessary basis for the true reality of dreams. At the same time the games give HM and SM an unobtrusive way to monitor people's psychological profiles.

Lo-tech haloist clade.

Clade Mary Habitat
Image from Anders Sandberg
Inside a typical Marian habitat
The economy is based on RCUs, Resource Consumption Units. Each unit allows a certain amount of air, food, water, energy and services. Nursing and education incurs a RCU debt, which has to be worked off to the habitat - they are in "the duty category". Once a person has worked it off (which can take many years since they need RCUs to pay their own existence in the meantime) they are "duty free" and in theory able to do what they want. In practice they have to remain on their old jobs. People who are too old or sick to work or lack RCUs are liabilities to the system, and not allowed to consume resources. They are frozen in the Repository, awaiting the day when "the crisis ends". Crimes are usually punished by fines, behaviour therapy (which also incurs a cost, of course; this can put someone back in the duty category) or freezing.

Everything is monitored, analysed and checked. The management systems monitor everyone and note any deviation from normal (some people who behave too variably are marked as "unpredictable" and generally avoided). There have been a few cases of corruption in the past, starting purges to protect the colony from "waste and favouritism"; an atmosphere of everybody watching everybody has spread. Still, some black market and semi-legal activity occurs, partly as a security valve accepted after sociological studies by HM (and secretly, a way for SM to have blackmail on most people). Computer games, sex and lucid dreaming are the most popular forms of entertainment.

Marian Technology isn't very advanced; most is equal to 23rd to 24th century Interplanetary Age technology, with an emphasis on life support technology and asteroid and comet mining.


MM (Matter Management) deals with mining, purifying, distilling He3 from the regolith and producing breathable air, drinkable water and raw materials. Most of the organisation is little more than a mining venture, and it has fairly low political status despite constant media barrages about how essential it is. Section 2 of MM runs most of the factories producing goods; local corruption allows the black market to get access to certain goods.

BM (Biomass Management) deals with the production, use and recycling of biomass. BM does the laborious conversion from water and minerals into biomass, tends the hydroponic gardens, production of more advanced biological products and sanitation/recycling. BM is always asking for more raw materials to keep the biomass levels up.

EM (Energy Management) runs the powerplants and powergrids. It is generally regarded as a bit arrogant, often having problems working with TM and running emergency drills too often.

TM (Technology Management) is responsible for keeping the overall technological system running. They build, maintain and repair the habitat, oversee the day-to-day function of the automation and runs several factories to produce new parts. While most of TM has fairly low status some sections are respected, such as Section 6 which is responsible for safety and emergencies; there are many stories about the heroics of Section 6 employees fighting disasters against huge odds and saving the habitats at the cost of their lives. Another important section is Section 8, which manages the remaining space vehicles and off-habitat sensors.

IM (Information Management) is the most popular and expansive part of Mary society. It builds and maintains the information and computer resources, and Section 2 produces the entertainment everybody watches or plays. Section 7 is not as well known, but it is responsible for propaganda, subliminal messages and monitoring; it is closely linked to SM.

HM (Human Management) is a huge organisation with sections ranging from economics (Section 1), sociological studies (Section 2), education (Section 3), health care (Section 4), housing (Section 5), sports (Section 6), psychology (Section 7), reproduction (Section 8) and cryonic freezing (Section 9).

SM (Security Management) keeps track of where the citizens are, what they are doing and if it is dangerous. Section 1 deals with physical dangers and how to deal with them (they coordinate with TM Section 6), while Section 2 is about law enforcement. Section 2 monitors the habitat through surveillance cameras, and sends out the Blacks to fetch offenders for punishment or therapy. Section 3 is about internal security; it is not well known and keeps a low profile.

PM (Project Management) is the central administration of Mary, organising the other management sections and making sure they work together to solve the Crisis.

The Marian Underworld certainly exists. It deals with illegal drugs, stolen goods and betting as well as various protection rackets. Many of the transactions (and some deeds) are done in the game virtuals: since RCUs are highly monitored, game scores and in-game-money are used. SM of course works against the underworld groups, but they are clever and SM often has more work to do monitoring legal activities and the citizens overall lives.

Marian Aesthetics is fairly drab and utilitarian, with colour mainly used for warning signs and symbols. Since the temperature is always 21 degrees C, people dress in white shorts and T-shirts marked with their names, position and rank. Tattoos are fairly common, often abstract patters of depictions of various characters from popular network games.


Resource Consumption Units. One RCU corresponds roughly to the amount of air, water, biomass, electricity and services needed to survive one day. Common derived units are the centiRCU and deciRCU.


Mary uses seconds as the time unit. Common measures are kilos (1000 seconds, around 16 minutes), days (100,000 seconds, around 28 hours) and megas (1000,000 seconds, a 10 day week). By tradition the orbital aphelion and perihelion is celebrated by a brief holiday, periday.

Each Management has its own colour (BM green, HM blue, EM yellow, SM black, PM red and so on), worn on lapel badges signifying rank and organisation (vertical band to the left, with a square to the right whose height denotes rank). All the colour bands put together form the symbol for the entire Marian colony. There is sometimes local variation according to the particular colonies - in June Kuiper (Barnard System) a circle rather than a square is used to designate rank.

Some Mariese Terms

Ars ... Slang for RCUs.
BeTer ... Behavioural Therapy. Used to treat various crimes and misdemeanors. The participants are said to have become BeTer afterwards.
Blacks ... People from SM. Similar slang is used for the other branches: greens for BM, blues for HM, reds for PM.
The Beyond ... The outside universe.
ComHaz ... Community hazard, a danger to everyone such as air leaks, blowouts, life support failure, meteor impacts or social unrest.
The Core ... The planning council.
The Crisis ... The current situation of scarcity, instability and imminent danger that has threatened Mary since it was founded.
Descend to the core ... Rise through the ranks. The most important functions are located in the lowermost parts of Mary.
Duted ... Returned to the duty category.
Duty free ... Somebody not owing the government RCUs.
Gamester ... Somebody addicted to the GamNet.
GamNet ... The game networks
GamMasters ... The best players.
In Repose ... Frozen in the Repository
Lux ... Lucid dream.
PersHaz ... Personal Hazard, a danger such as vacuum, heat, cold, radiation or dangerous machinery.
Regolith ... Somebody with a mind like regolith: flaky, boring and useless. Insult.
Shirker ...Somebody not paying his dues.
Stress ... Music style popular among the gamesters.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Graphic by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 09 September 2001.

Adapted from the BIGV scenario.

Original URL