Neubayern is a world of grand architecture, a liberal society with harsh laws with a strong concept of state and society but very little thought towards privacy. The state draws a harsh line when it comes to those who try to take advantage of their freedoms to harm others or damage the state, and its police forces are well funded and not very gentle. And that is how Neubayerns like it.
With a population of over 3 billion, Neubayern is one of the major worlds in the Islands. It has two major land masses, New Austria in the north and Swabia in the south, with a single equatorial ocean Mittelmeer completely encircling the world. The world is ringed by lights – the signs of heavy industry, military and commerce having moved into orbit. This is a high tech world with a thriving space industry and vibrant economy. The largest orbital habitats are six military fortresses designed for planetary defence. They are further out than the civilian habitats, around 20,000km altitude, and coming within 1,000km of them is absolutely forbidden, so are often the first objects new arrivals will notice as they come out of jump and avoidance warnings start popping up on their screens.
Though there are large islands in the ocean, their populations are low. The dense atmosphere, coupled with long stretches of ocean, mean equatorial and tropical hurricanes make them difficult places to live for much of the year. The two polar continents are far more habitable, and reach just far enough from the poles to provide temperate climate, allowing extensive grassy plains and thick forest towards the coastal regions.
Though the atmosphere is dense, it’s not uncomfortable. Gravity is slightly lower than standard, and the day is just under 26¾ hours.
It is along the coasts that most of the population can be found, nestled into temperate fjords long since cleared of ice. The southern cities on the continent of Swabia are the largest, and are home to over two billion people. About a hundred million people live permanently in orbital habitats, whilst the rest populate the northern cities of New Austria.
The capital city is New Berlin, with a population of over 20 million. It is a vast metropolis, mostly of stone buildings constructed from the blue quartz that is present in large quantities on Pagan, the world’s single moon. Most of the larger cities are built from this, giving Neubayern architecture a somewhat unique feel. They shun the metal and glass look favoured by most high tech civilisations, instead going for a heavy stone with a decidedly Gothic look. Arches, spires and narrow tall windows adorn any building of any significant importance.
The city streets are wide, built to a square grid pattern, with priority on the surface to pedestrians, and most transport being automated air cars. Navigation and driving by a human is almost unheard of, requiring significant training and a special license for any piloting within a kilometre of an urban area.
The Neubayerns trust their technology, and their major cities are divided into the Stadt Unten (city below) and the Stadt Oben (city above), the latter being large floating city blocks that hover a couple of hundred metres above the ground below. Few actual buildings are that high – the Neubayern’s prefer to use anti-gravity to have detached floating buildings rather than building a single building that high. Holographic displays tend to fill shop windows, but rarely extend beyond that. The huge build sized holo-displays of places such as New Colchis are considered tacky and objectionable.
The main star port is in orbit, and is a massive collection of docking bays, factories, commercial areas and hotels. Shuttles down to the surface are common, or ships can land directly outside of New Berlin where landing bays float a hundred metres above the ocean just off the shore, connected to the main city by shuttle tubes that ferry people to and from.
Regardless of whether travellers come into the high or low port, they will immediately be met with the efficiency and strictness of the Neubayern border security. Heavily armed and completely lacking in humour, they also insist on speaking ‘German’ for all official business at the ports, requiring the use of translators unless the Travellers also speak it. After a thousand years separated from Earth, this Island German is quite different from the original, but beyond the port authorities most people are bi-lingual, speaking Ganglic at the very least. Other Island languages are quite common here, though very few speak Vilani.
The locals tend to dress for warmth, since most of the populated areas are at high latitudes. Trousers are common, often as part of format suits, and skirts and dresses rare except when dressing up (or down). There is a high proportion of light skinned, light haired people on Neubayern, and it’s the stereotypical outsider view of Neubayerns, possibly due to a strong bias in their media. However, there are a wide range of Solomani racial types present, and most locals have gravitated towards identifying strongly as Solomani as well as Neubayern, more so possibly than other Islanders.
Hair styles tend to be short and clean shaven (body or facial hair of any type is considered ugly), and tattoos or piercings are almost unheard of outside of the Netherlands.
Cybernetic implants are readily available to those who can afford them, and considered socially acceptable, though skin-replica forms are always used when possible. Skill and mood chips are used by the wealthy, and even personality recordings of media personalities are commonly available for rent for entertainment purposes.
Neubayern society is both strict and liberal. Though the government allows criticism, it is only during well regulated public debates and feedback sessions which are held every few months. The media is highly regulated, and everyone is expected to be a model citizen that stick to laws and customs within any deviation. Those that are thought to be spreading disinformation, dissent or immoral views that could destabilise either society or the government are quickly rounded up by the police and taken for ‘re-education’. This applies to off-worlders as well as locals, and it’s not uncommon for visitors to be followed and closely observed. Given that CCTV, together with automated facial recognition, is ubiquitous in all urban areas, travellers should assume that they are being watched. The police aren’t hampered with the need for warrants before collecting information on anyone, or even breaking into hotel rooms or private residences to look for evidence.
Though the police, called the Neubayern Staatssicherheit, cause some degree of fear in the populace, it is seen as a necessary requirement for a stable society, and informants are common. It is an open secret that the police make use of telepaths, thought their numbers are thought to be low. Trying to contact the black markets here (which exists, and is thriving, dealing in illegal drugs XP sims and dissident information) can be a risky proposition for outsiders who don’t already have trusted contacts.
However, there is a lot of social flexibility as long as it doesn’t harm the government or society at large. At work and at home Neubayerns tend to be serious and formal, even the use of first names in work settings is unusual.
Most people attend ‘Social Clubs’, especially at weekends (more often for the younger generations), where music, dancing, drugs and sex are readily available. Different types of clubs cater for different tastes, some specialising in music and dance, whilst others might specialise in sex and eroticism. Whilst Neubayerns favour and practice the concept of nuclear families with marriage being between a man and a woman, experimentation outside of that dynamic is acceptable, if not encouraged, at such clubs as long as everything is consensual and open. It is at these clubs that the citizens are able to relax and express their needs and desires in a way that is rarely judged. They are seen as a necessary release valve in order to maintain an otherwise rigid society.
Some of the music clubs are famous throughout the Islands, though films and other narrative media aren’t too common. They tend to focus on positive role Neubayern role models, with unambiguously good heroes who follow the law and work in the furthering of the ideals of Neubayern society. Parodies of Neubayern media are more common outside of Neubayern than the originals are.
Other than social clubs, which are by invite only so not often frequented by off-worlders (though invites aren’t that hard to come by), there are plenty of cafes, bars, high quality hotels and restaurants available in the big cities. As long as you don’t draw attention to yourself, Neubayern can be a good place to visit, relax, and enjoy the music and architecture.
If you want a bit more fun, then the Netherlands in western Swabia has a much more vibrant counter-culture, with the population being a lot more outspoken about the government and wishing to break social norms. This is centred around the city of Neu York, where there is a small space port which is open to off-worlders. It provides refuelling services but not much in the way of trade or ship repair.
The dance halls and fancy bars are easier to get into, but crime is also more common. Police raids do happen here, when someone gets too outspoken, but the government seem to prefer to allow this extra freedom where they can keep an eye on it, rather than cracking down completely and having it all go underground.