Desert of Stars
"O Shah, live forever! though such is thy might and majesty that the vault of heaven alone should be thy throne. All the world is submissive before thee, and I can bethink me but of one thing that is lacking unto thy glory."
Then Kai Kaous questioned him of this one thing, and the Deev said, "It is that thou knowest not the nature of the sun and moon, nor wherefore the planets roll, neither the secret causes that set them in motion. Thou art master of all the earth, therefore shouldst thou not make the heavens also obedient to thy will?"
Ferdowsi, The Shahnameh
Almost four thousand years ago the primitive iron-age Yavanas and La Tène stumbled, by an accident of chance, on an unexpected inheritance: the Guidestones. Carved on their blue-grey surface were the breathless secrets that catapulted forward their civilizations. Above all there was an unwritten promise; those stars without number that wheeled above their heads were theirs to take.
The first brave adventurers found themselves alone in a desert of stars, a vast alien wilderness stretching to horizons beyond all imagination. It was a time where legends were written. The great sailor Dirac who unfurled her sails in an endless sea that still bears her name, charting the stellar winds. The verdant Flower Worlds of the Satavahana dynasty, with their petal plates that basked in the sun. The great Henges of the Druids, powering endless cities. The Hundred Thousand Rajas and their steel warships. A Golden Age.
In between the cracks of their Empires, other people, with other Gods were climbing the stairway to Heaven. They too had their own Guidestones. The Yavanas and La Tène taught some. Others they conquered. The empty sky was slowly filling.
The end of their Golden Age was not a tempestuous war, though cruel and terrible wars were waged between their mighty princes, nor was it some plague or ague that ate it up, though many individual kingdoms were claimed by calamity. As the Yavanas and La Tène scattered further and further apart, as if driven by the relentless gyre of the stars themselves, they simply came to forget. They forgot their suzerains. They forgot the ways they had tread. They forgot even the names of their Homeland. So many great nobles, administrations, so many high chieftains, so many proud princes and power so splendid; gone in a cosmic breath. There were other tragedies, other plots, titanic struggles resounding with glory and savagery, but none remember them now.
The Yavanas and La Tène have faded, but the Desert of Stars is home to a squalling multitude of people.
It is time for a new Golden Age.
Welcome to the Desert of Stars.
Polities are the typical Story Debate bread and butter, and likely the first choice for a Player. As the name implies Polities usually cover any sort of body politic, including broad confederations with loose central power. In game terms this translates to direct rule over a number of Zones and influence in others with all the resources this implies. Polities present the broadest set of options and tools to the player and wield the most direct power.
Movements cover all your transnational non-government organizations: conspiracies, criminal syndicates, pervasive insurgencies, powerful priesthoods, megacorporations, mercenary legions, secret societies, etc etc. Unlike Polities, Movements have no ability to properly rule a zone. However, they can potentially extend influence across vast areas without restriction. More importantly, a Movement can simply pack up and move its operations to areas more relevant towards its interest. While their unorthodox nature may be daunting, under clever guidance a Movement can be just as powerful, moreso even, than some of the greatest Empires.
Legends are relatively small bands or individuals of tremendous personal power. Whereas a Movement is not necessarily any less powerful than a Polity, Legends are sharply and distinctly limited in the resources they can marshal on the Grand scale. On the other hand what they lack in raw power they gain in maneuverability and freedom of action. While they may not possess vast armies or have loyal agents in every hall, a Legend can quite easily tip the scales in a match between two greater powers should it so choose.
Like Scale, which of these three best describes a particular OOB is always relative. The Hammer's Slammers are certainly a Movement in their original stomping ground, but Alois Hammer and his tankers might better qualify as a Legend in a setting where native armies are much larger and capable.